Games

Hypnospace Outlaw Review - Dot Com Detective

Gamespot News Feed - 14 hours 56 min ago

For those of us who already spend our entire waking life tethered to the internet, the concept of Hypnospace will seem like both the logical conclusion to our always-online existence and its literal nightmare scenario. Hypnospace, the titular technology of Hypnospace Outlaw, is a social network you can access while you sleep, thus solving the problem of its users failing to update their status due to having to close their eyes for eight hours a day. It's both ingenious and terrible, and serves as the all-too-horrifyingly-plausible premise of this quite clever, quite funny, simulated '90s web browsing puzzle game.

Log on to Hypnospace and you find yourself jolted back to the late '90s internet age where every page belonged to a webring, had a visitor counter, and blared tinny MIDI music on loop every 15 seconds. The Hypnospace web portal is a walled garden, to use the modern term, split into themed zones that play host to whatever it is people make websites about. Or rather, what people used to make websites about.

It's 1999, the frontier era of the internet, before it was dominated by corporations, where random people stole some HTML and threw up a page dedicated to whatever random things interested them at the time. There's a kind of ramshackle energy at play--whether it's in Bill Aldrin's House of Sound and his raw music reviews or Gus' Temple of Serenity and his earnest new age-isms--that will make those of a certain generation (i.e. me) nostalgic for the looser, weirder, more experimental, yet more innocent internet that we seem to have lost in the years since.

You navigate these sites as a kind of moderator in the employ of Merchantsoft, the startup behind Hypnospace. You're dispatched jobs to track down incidents of content infringement, harassment, illegal activity, and so on, removing the offending text, images, or links from the pages you find them, and issuing warnings to the users who posted them.

Initially, you're assigned specific zones to monitor, and early cases are a simple matter of browsing the pages in each zone until you encounter the relevant material. The pages themselves are mostly spot on in terms of their portrayal of late '90s amateur internet culture and reading through each new page becomes a source of constant amusement. What you're being asked to do as a mod in these early cases isn't especially interesting, but that's fine, because the writing across the board is so sharp.

Things soon get more complicated, and fulfilling each new task requested by your manager becomes more of a puzzle that you really need to work to solve. These puzzles are mostly satisfying to work through. You'll be plugging in search terms to track down potential leads, cross-referencing data and Hypnospace user IDs, reading blog entries to identify clues that might suggest how you could try to crack someone's password, exploring unlisted zones and installing new kinds of software. It quickly becomes a game of internet detective where you're saving documents to your virtual desktop and bookmarking pages of interest to return to later.

Where it suffers is when this sleuthing distracts from the writing. Getting stuck and browsing through the same pages again and again rarely makes any of the jokes funnier. As you progress through the cases, weeks and months pass and you'll see the passage of time reflected as users update their pages--occasionally even in response to your moderating actions--while new pages appear and old ones close. Such updates are welcome, and remarkable given the sheer quantity of pages you're able to browse by the game's end, but you're still going to be looking at the same stuff many times over before you're done.

Hypnospace Outlaw loves the internet, warts and all. It loves how the internet is really still all about weird online communities and their rivalries, feuds, and splinter groups, and how one person's ideas--both good and bad--can gather momentum and spin out of control. It also loves how trivial much of the internet really is, and how we should both celebrate all this made-up nonsense and acknowledge how much of our time with the internet is just frittered away on garbage. It also very accurately simulates that "down the rabbit hole" journey where one click leads to another, and before you realize it, you've spent the night chasing links and can't remember whatever it was that prompted the expedition in the first place.

There are glimpses of darkness through the nostalgic haze, and it's in these moments that you realize that this isn't really just about the internet of the '90s. The cowboy arrogance and shady dealings of Merchantsoft is analogous to many tech startups of today that promise to liberate but only oppress. And in a frightening near-future vision of the gig economy, you're paid in Hypnocoin, a virtual currency accepted at Hypnospace's commercial partners, and only receive payments for reporting violations of Hypnospace's code of conduct. These elements may feel ahead of their time for a game set in 1999, but they make a fair point about where we've taken the internet in the intervening years.

As an exploration of early-ish internet culture, Hypnospace Outlaw demonstrates how far we've travelled online over the past 20 years while at the same time asking whether we've gone anywhere at all. The bandwidth may have improved since 1999 but the content can look all too familiar today.

Categories: Games

Launch Trailer Highlights The Desperate Struggle Against The Machines

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 03/19/2019 - 16:39

Publisher: THQ Nordic Developer: Avalanche Studios Release: March 26, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Generation Zero, the open-world cooperative shooter set in 1980s Sweden, launches next week. As players gear up to take back the countryside from the mysterious mechanical invaders, developer Avalanche Studios has released a launch trailer highlighting some of the intense firefights you can expect when the game launches.

Set in the 1980s, you and your group of friends return to your quiet countryside hometown in Sweden to find that everyone is gone and giant robots have taken over. Your mission is to fight back alongside up to three friends to not only take back your home, but also discover what has happened.

You can see the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Generation Zero hits PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 26.

Categories: Games

The Wonderfully Weird Fiction Of Control

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 03/18/2019 - 18:44

Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Remedy Entertainment Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Control is set in an ever-shifting environment rife with mysteries, which makes it a fascinating backdrop for a story. Storytelling is far from a new beast for Remedy, who have dabbled in intertwining different mediums like TV into interactive tales. During our cover story trip, the team went in-depth with us about how they are approaching story this time by breaking the fourth wall, building a David Lynch-style world with questions that don’t always have answers, and finding new ways to explore transmedia approaches while also taking “reasonable steps back” in comparison to Quantum Break. 

Remedy considers Control to be part of the New Weird genre, a take on science fiction and fantasy that contradicts conventions, putting emphasis on the bizarre. According to narrative designer Brooke Maggs, the team took inspiration from Jeff VanderMeer’s novel Annihilation, as well as Mr. Robot, Inception, and Legion. Maggs explains that voiceover narration for protagonist Jesse plays a big role in Control, just like it did in Max Payne, but things are a bit different this time.

“It's less of a self-narration and more what's going on in her mind, like what she's thinking to herself,” Maggs says. “We’ve tried to cut back on the amount of times it does that and being really strategic about it. We get a lot of insight into Jesse's character that way, because she's learned to be quite closed down and keep a lot of things close to her chest.”

“Sometimes when you are having a conversation with another character, it’s almost like there are three people present in the room,” creative director Sam Lake says. “We have Jesse who says things out loud, we have the other character replying, and then we have Jesse on the level of VO commenting or revealing to us how she really feels if she is saying something different.”

Lake hinted that breaking the fourth wall may happen occasionally. Sometimes it will seem like Jesse is talking directly to the player, but it may not ever be completely clear.

Hearing Jesse’s thoughts can go a long way in Control, helping us piece together a narrative from her perspective. This is especially important since the game has an enigmatic story that doesn’t always give answers; it leaves breadcrumbs and conclusions up to the player’s interpretation. 

“I personally like mysteries,” Lake says. “I like not having all the answers given to me, because that’s an active state and you are thinking about it and joining in.”

However, finding a balance between offering truths and keeping the mystery can be difficult, and Remedy doesn’t want to leave players frustrated.

“The challenge of that is to have that not feel cheap,” Maggs says. “The New Weird genre is defined by the fact that it's bewilderment and the desire to know what is behind a door is another door, [and then] another door. You want to encourage people to want to uncover these mysteries but also keep giving them mysteries.”

Maggs says she hopes players will feel like they “got an answer but also want to know more.” Lore plays a major role in Control, and you can expect to find audio logs, video logs, and documents to read as you explore The Oldest House. The team is aware that Quantum Break had a lot of text to rummage through, so Remedy is planning to cut back for Control.

The same can be said for live-action segments. Since Max Payne, Remedy has flirted with meshing other mediums like TV with gameplay, and this continues in Control, but in a more condensed form.

“[We’re] trying to find methods for using these different mediums more as part of inside the world,” Lake says. “This is unlike Quantum Break, where we took you out of the game and into the show, but here we are using them inside the world.”

One of Control’s characters, Doctor Casper Darling, appears through short live-action segments viewed on monitors throughout The Oldest House. Darling is played by Matthew Porretta, the voice actor for Alan Wake. As head of research, Darling’s eccentric decades-old videos have helped current staff stay alive against an otherworldly threat known as The Hiss.

“We wanted to make [the videos] slightly crude, clumsy, amateurish by design, because it’s meant to be that Bureau communication department has created these videos for internal communication,” Lake says. “So it’s meant to be slightly awkward and clumsy. These guys aren’t professionals for media presentations.”

Live action is also used for a deceased character, Zachariah Trench, who appears to Jesse through ghostly apparitions. He is the former director of the Bureau, and we find out early on that he’s been killed. As you lead Jesse through her journey, you attempt to find ways to connect with Trench better, since his messages to you from beyond the grave come out as fragmented and difficult to understand. Lake hints that there are “mysterious devices” around The Oldest House that can help. 

“We are actually using a combination of in-engine elements and live-action material, so those silhouettes of him appearing that you might have seen, that’s shot in live-action, but then we are putting that in weird layers into the game engine so it feels strange,” Lake says.

It's clear Remedy is putting a lot of effort into Control’s story and hasn’t lost its ambition of attempting creative ways to tackle it. Maggs likens The Oldest House to a “narrative wonderland,” and so far, we couldn’t agree more.

Click the banner below to visit our coverage hub for Control, which will be updated throughout the month with exclusive interviews, features, videos, and more.

Categories: Games

Tom Clancy's The Division 2 Review In Progress

Gamespot News Feed - Sat, 03/16/2019 - 00:01

I don't know why I'm in Washington DC; some lady just told me to be here. But there are civilians in distress, armed gangs roaming the streets, and me, my pals, and the second amendment are apparently the only ones who can actually do anything about it. I have no idea what, if anything, is going on with the bigwigs I met in the White House. But so long as I'm helping folks, sending relatively bad people to bed, walking the pretty streets, and picking up a new pair of gloves every so often, I'm very happy to hang around.

In the world of Tom Clancy's The Division 2, the USA has been ravaged by a virus and society has crumbled. While those who remain try to survive by banding together in groups of various dispositions, the Strategic Homeland Division activates highly specialized sleeper agents to try and restore order. It's a setting ripe in potential, perhaps to tell a ripping techno-thriller story that scrutinizes the structures of our modern society and government, or perhaps to make a video game that leverages the chaos that occurs when multiple idealistic groups clash in a vie for power in a lawless city. The Division 2 only does one of these things.

It's not the story. Throughout the entirety of The Division 2's main campaign, never did the game spend a satisfactory amount of time on any semblance of an overarching plot, or the predicaments of its supposedly important figures. There are no character arcs, only abrupt setups and consequences. Narrative devices, like audio logs found in the world, add nothing of consequence. Even the game's biggest macguffins--the President of the United States and his briefcase containing a cure for the virus--have a minimal amount of absolutely forgettable screen time. The opportunity to use The Division 2 to create meaningful fiction is wasted.

Instead, The Division 2 focuses its narrative chops into worldbuilding. The city, a ravaged Washington DC, initially feels a little homogenous in the way most Western cities do. But after some time, the personality of the different districts--the buildings, the landmarks, the natural spaces, and the ways they've been repurposed or affected by the cataclysm--begins to shine through. It's this strength of environment which lays a very strong foundation for The Division 2 as a video game, creating an engrossing, believable, and contiguous open world.

Moving from your safehouse to the open world and your next mission area is almost entirely seamless. It's something that was also true of the original Division, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the simple act of going from place to place in The Division 2 is one of the game's more rewarding aspects. One road may lead to a skirmish with a rival patrol or an optional activity, another might simply give you another stirring scene of urban decay in the morning sun. An obscured shortcut through an apartment block might turn up some useful items in an abandoned home, which you might decide to donate to the makeshift settlements where civilians have attempted to rebuild their lives.

Visiting those settlements--initially as hovels, before they gradually grow and become more charming, vibrant places thanks to your efforts in the world--becomes a strong motivator in the absence of a plot to chase. Outside main missions, which are dedicated to the weakening of rival factions and achieving indiscriminate objectives, the game's "Projects" are one of the most lucrative means of earning experience to better your character. Projects ask you to donate resources you find out in the world and participate in side activities, encouraging you to spend more time in the world, see new areas, fight new battles, search for new equipment to use, and find enjoyment in that. The Division 2 is, after all, a game devoted to providing you with a continuous stream of gripping conflicts, valuable rewards, and a perpetual sense of progress and satisfaction from doing these things. It does those things very well.

You spend a lot of time hunkered behind cover, popping out to fire at any enemy dumb enough to expose themselves. With the large amount of weapon variety available, this familiar facet of combat is solid in itself. Add to that the ability to equip two special abilities from a possible eight--which include tools such as riot shields, drones, and from what I can gather, robot bees of some sort--and combat gets pretty interesting. But the vector that really keeps The Division 2's combat lively for upwards of 30 hours is the behavior and diversity of its enemy types.

That time you spend in cover? The Division 2 doesn't want you to just stay there. You can go down very quickly if you're out in the open, but the game has a dozen ways to alway keep you taking those risks and finding better firing positions--aggressive melee units, remote control cars equipped with sawblades, even the regular assault units regularly attempt to outflank you. Those special abilities? You absolutely need to use them to their full potential to survive some encounters, whether by throwing out the seeker mines or the automated turret to keep enemies at bay while you focus on a priority target, or perhaps utilizing the chemical launcher to start a fire and create a zone of denial.

The effort needed to take out an adversary is relatively reasonable for a shooter that prioritizes the RPG nature of its combat model, but some of the tougher enemies have additional, visible layers of protection which you need to focus on breaking if you want to land critical hits. On the flip side, some enemies have additional, obtuse weak points which can work to your advantage, but only if you can hit them. The fuel tank on the back of a flamethrower unit might be feasible, but when you start running into the terrifying robotic quadruped in post-campaign activities, whose tiny weak point only reveals itself seconds before it fires its devastating railgun, you have to assess whether you can afford to take on that challenge among all the other things pressuring you. The Division 2 throws a lot of hurdles at you, but also gives you the means to quickly counter and resolve them. Whether you can juggle that many balls at once is what keeps combat tense and exciting.

What's also exciting is the treasure at the end of these gauntlets. These Washington locations, refashioned into memorable combat arenas, are often rewarding in their own right (a fight in a planetarium is an early standout). But improving your equipment is the vital, tangible part that keeps you feeling like you're making progress. You receive new gear in generous amounts, some dropped by an enemy or looted from a container found in the world, others rewarded for completing a mission, and the next dose always feels in reach. The weapon variety forces you to consider something completely different to take advantage of a power boost, and the armor variety provides an impressive number of different cosmetic looks. The Division 2 incorporates a microtransaction and loot box system for its inconsequential clothing options, though these can be found in the world and earned of your own accord, too.

Like combat, gear remains intriguing throughout Division 2 not just because of the abstract desire to have bigger numbers attached to your person and progress further through the game's challenges, but also through a raft of "talents." These add unique perks that complement particular skills or styles of play, like doing extra damage within a certain range, when enemies are burning, or your armor is depleted. The brands of armor also have a part to play, whereby equipping a number of pieces from a single manufacturer provide additional advantages. These bonuses become particularly attractive to obsess over in the endgame, when the world is retaken by a tougher, more merciless enemy faction called Black Tusk, and you need to ensure your ability to fight them is the best it can be.

For the hundreds of pieces you will inevitably want to discard, the ability to sell or dismantle them for parts to either purchase or craft pieces you want gives value to everything you pick up. Or you might retain them in order to move their talents to better gear of the same type, And, as a wonderful convenience, The Division 2 implements numerous features to inspect, mark, dismantle, or equip things you find so quickly and elegantly--sometimes without ever having to enter a menu--that it improves the whole experience of being in its world.

The same can be said of the game's multiplayer integration, which allows you to easily group up and progress with friends (the game will scale any underpowered players to match the most powerful). Alternatively, you can join a clan, which opens up a variety of weekly challenges, granting valuable rewards, and which features integrated game-wide group communication options. Even if you're only interested in playing alone (which is more challenging, but entirely feasible), the ability to matchmake with other players at any time, whether that be in the open world, before you start a mission, or when you're at a final boss, is a very welcome feature.

And when you beat that final boss of the game's final mission (though, such is the Division 2's lack of plot framing, I honestly couldn't tell you his name to save my life) and you think you've finally run out of treasure to keep luring you through more fights, the metaphorical table gets flipped. Flipped hard. The Washington DC you spent so long liberating from rival factions becomes completely retaken by the aforementioned Black Tusk. You unlock three unique class specializations, each with their own skill trees to work at unlocking. Your focus on growing two-digit numbers on your character (your level) moves to three-digit numbers (the quality of your gear). Even after finishing the campaign, the game still feels enormous.

More challenging, remixed versions of campaign missions and open-world challenges featuring Black Tusk become available. The idea might sound trite, but in practice, these "Invaded" missions often leverage the new enemy types to create terrifying new combat scenarios that maintain the steady ramp-up of challenges, and they give you a fantastic reason to revisit the more memorable combat arenas with a purpose. However, there's still a lot I haven't seen. I've yet to dabble in the three Dark Zones, reward-rich areas where players can potentially find themselves up against other, malicious agents as well as the usual enemies. I'm also yet to participate in Conflict, The Division 2's take on traditional team-based competitive multiplayer modes.

But after spending 30 hours completing the campaign and beginning to dabble in the endgame, I'm still enamored with The Division 2. The range of enemy types continues to keep combat encounters challenging, the equipment I earn and pick up continues to feel different and valuable. The ravaged environments continue to intrigue, and sometimes they're so stunning I find myself needing to take a screenshot before I move on. There is still so much to see in The Division 2, but I want to take the time to see it. I have absolutely no clue why I'm here or what anyone's motivations are, and I wish I had a narrative purpose to my endless hunger for progression. But I'm glad to be here right now.

Note: This review-in-progress will be finalized once substantial time has been spent in The Division 2's endgame content, including Dark Zones and Conflicts.

Categories: Games

Anthem Increases Drop Rate For Endgame Weapons

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 20:15
Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The latest update for Anthem is now live and, thanks to the patch notes, Bioware has confirmed that they have made some changes to the game's criticized loot table to better emphasize endgame weapons when you're actually in the endgame. You might ask why it was different before this update and it seems like Bioware also agrees.

The new update is server-side, which means you don't need to actually download anything for it to take effect. On the grandmaster 2 and 3 difficulty levels, the drop rate for Masterwork & Legendary items has been increased. Masterwork & Legendary drop rates have also been increased for tougher enemies at all difficulty levels in general.

The changes come fairly soon after Bioware community manager Jesse Anderson wrote an extensive and lengthy response on the game's subreddit to player concerns. Anderson explained why Anthem differed between pre-launch and the final product, how reactive Bioware is to feedback, and strongly insisted that "Anthem is here to stay."

Anthem is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. You can find our review of the game right here

Categories: Games

Left Alive Review - No Will To Survive

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 17:00

You awaken in a city under enemy occupation after neighbouring forces swept in and brutally laid waste to soldiers and civilians alike. You’re separated from your squad, your Wanzer mech heavily damaged and unable to operate, with nothing but the local army’s omnipotent AI, Koshka, to help guide you to safety. Left Alive’s opening salvo shows its certain potential, but while the premise pulls you in, the take away once it’s all over is one of resounding disappointment. Left Alive is an astoundingly infuriating grind that lacks in almost every area, making a wholly unrewarding experience.

Set in the same universe as the long-neglected Front Mission series, you alternate between three main characters--a rookie Wanzer pilot, a former military veteran turned beat cop, and a ghosted merc who’s been presumed dead for two years. Each character is on a different path to try and escape the city that’s overrun with enemy mechs and soldiers. Their paths will intertwine over the course of the game’s 14 missions allowing for some occasionally fun interplay between the protagonists, but that’s about as interesting as their story gets. Moments of both political and personal intrigue go for knockout blows with almost no set up, leaving them feeling flat and impactless, and the story never really gets back on its feet.

Surviving the numerous open-world sections of the city is the main point of Left Alive, avoiding combat where possible and traversing slowly and silently through the torn up streets littered with abandoned cars and flaming piles of rubbish. As you move from point to point, you’ll scavenge items and components--from empty cans and bottles to stripping parts from destroyed drones--in order to craft traps and projectiles. But even with these tools, progress comes slowly, and arduously, for a variety of different reasons, the chief of which is the game’s stunningly poor combat.

Weapons in general feel woefully inadequate and underpowered. Guns are weak and make a lot of noise (inviting any enemy within a block to bear fire down upon your position) and headshots don’t ever result in a one hit kill. Bullet impacts feel scattered and inconsistent, with perfect reticle aim not ensuring a hit--even on the first shot. Melee weapons aren’t much better, you’re more likely to get knocked down yourself before you can them so it’s always a high risk move, and there’s no stealth bonus for sneaky attacks. Projectile weapons are more stealth-oriented as the AI aren’t able to track where a thrown item came from, but they are equally as ineffective at putting the enemy down for good.

The stilted and jittery combat sucks the air out of every enemy engagement, but you’re consistently forced into it. Koshka’s incessant reminder of “Caution, the enemy is approaching” on a loop when in close proximity to a guard just adds to the annoyance. Checkpoints and save points are scarce, and more often than not the direct route to each is blocked by a number of patrolling guards or worse, a comparably overpowered Wanzer, meaning a lot of backtracking to save points in safer zones in order to avoid replaying tedious sections. Although the game’s map tries to usefully point out high alert zones, it doesn’t feel like there’s any tangible difference between the two; safe zones are just as likely to be teeming with patrolling guards as alert zones are.

Side missions come in the form of other survivors, many of whom only need to be accompanied to the nearest shelter, of which there are a handful strewn about each map. Some will go easily, while others are in distress and need convincing to move via a handful of dialogue choices, though these feel trite--it never felt like it mattered if they were rescued or not. They’re helpless and will quickly go down if fired at, unless you clear their path beforehand they have frustratingly little chance of making it to the shelter safely. But the risk of taking more guards head on just to get survivors out quickly turns into a tiring and unfulfilling routine.

Wanzers are the only part of Left Alive that bucks its mediocrity. When moving through the city, these imposing behemoths will patrol along the wider open sections of the map, sweeping the area from on high. Most of the time they can be avoided by finding a clearer route, but sometimes you’ll need to get unnervingly close, creating a palpable sense of fear as you try to sneak by them undetected. Getting noticed by a Wanzer spells almost certain death, unless you can get your hands on a rocket launcher and a good sniping spot, which will take them down with a few well placed shots to the torso.

Even better is when you get behind the controls of a Wanzer and give the enemy a healthy dose of their own medicine. Weapons, from rocket launchers and huge assault rifles to shoulder mounted railguns, each has a distinct feel to them. For example, the railgun requires your mech to kneel to make a more stable platform and then a second to warm up before firing, but will cause tremendous damage with a direct hit. All weapons overheat at different times if not allowed to breathe out in between shots, but if you time it right you can easily alternate between your main four to unload continuous fire.

Save for Wanzer-related activities, almost no part of Left Alive feels good to play; it’s painfully slow, inconsistent, and looks incredibly dated. Environment textures are muddied and lack detail, animations don’t blend together that well which gives everything a slightly jolting look. Blowing up an enemy vehicle sees it simply disappear into thin air behind a flat, low-res fire texture. When you mix moments like that with the already tiring combat, which is compounded further during some utterly infuriating late-game boss fights, it really hits home how far wide of the mark Left Alive is.

Perhaps the worst part is that you can see there’s something here, ideas that have some real potential but never even come close to being realised. The Wanzer combat is genuinely rad, but that’s it. Everything else comes with a heavy caveat; be it how underpowered you feel, the awkward movement, the inconsistent bullet impacts, the ugly environments… the list goes on. There’s almost no joy to be found in playing Left Alive, only bitter disappointment.

Categories: Games

Uncovering The Mysteries Of Control's The Oldest House

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 17:00

Publisher: 505 Games Developer: Remedy Entertainment Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Control invites players to explore The Oldest House, a mysterious building located in Manhattan. Just because the events of the game take place within a single location doesn’t mean you should expect a lack of diversity in the environments. I not only had the chance to explore a small section of The Oldest House, but also chat with the team at Remedy Entertainment to see what we could learn about Control’s enigmatic setting.

The Oldest House serves as the headquarters for the Federal Bureau of Control (FBC), a government agency that investigates the unexplainable. The Bureau discovered The Oldest House in the 1960s while looking into Altered World Events, different supernatural phenomena they’re tasked with researching. After discovering the shifting Place of Power hidden beneath the New York subway, the Bureau decided to make it its headquarters.

Being a Place of Power means it can hold Objects of Power, items that grant protagonist Jesse Faden additional abilities, but that’s not all. Places of Power have unique logic to them, and they operate under their own rules. The Oldest House shifts and transforms in unexpected ways as you move through it. The Bureau calls The Oldest House home, but an unexplainable threat known as The Hiss has invaded, corrupting or killing employees and infecting The Oldest House.

The Oldest House features Brutalist architecture, with hard, sharp cement lines showcasing function over form. Control is a game about contrasts. Just as the realistic look of the game contrasts with the supernatural happenings throughout, the clean, grounded design of The Oldest House is also contrasted by the fluid, mysterious entity of The Hiss.

The shifting nature of The Oldest House also contrasts with the sturdy look of the building. As I explored the cement hallways of the building in my hands-on demo, I stumbled upon a maze that felt ripped right out of the 1950s. As Jesse walks toward walls, they fold away like paper to reveal openings, which lead her either toward the end or back to the beginning. 

In addition, various locales feature drastically different design. From a basement overrun by plants and fungal-looking enemies to an area full of overlapping cement blocks with a menacing red light serving as the backdrop – perhaps a sign of heavy Hiss corruption – players can expect a high degree of diversity throughout The Oldest House.

The biggest departure from the lobby of The Oldest House came with a dive into the Black Rock Quarry. Black Rock is a mineral discovered by the FBC that dampens supernatural and paranormal forces. Because of this, the Bureau devotes effort to mining it. The quarry itself is beautiful, with a gorgeous star-filled night sky obscured only by mining equipment that casts silhouettes resembling a city skyline. While none of the activities in the area were set up as I explored the Black Rock Quarry, the diversity of design made me excited to see what other unique locations we’ll uncover during a full playthrough of Control.

Being a Place of Power has made The Oldest House a perfect target for The Hiss, as the strange entity is seemingly interested in power, whether that be powerful people or powerful places. Much like Eastern medicine’s philosophy of qi or energy channels throughout the human body, The Oldest House also has locations called “Control Points” that are more powerful or important that The Hiss target. 

“These are the spots that the Bureau harmonized so they stabilized, so the shifting of the place actually stopped,” game director Mikael Kasurinen says. “Then what happens with The Hiss, it’s akin to a disease hitting the human body that affects those points and corrupts and twists them like cancer, if you will. That’s what’s occurring with the transformation in the building. It affects humans as well. We call it resonance, but not resonance in the sense of audio, but more like dimensional resonance. Resonance through reality that starts to affect you and change you. There are pretty extreme transformations you’ll see as well, but in the building and the humans.”

Part of Jesse’s mission in Control is to cleanse The Oldest House and its inhabitants of this corruption. As you cleanse Control Points, you unlock that spot for fast travel throughout the building.

Though I saw hours of gameplay, there are still so many mysteries to uncover within The Oldest House and the world of Control. While it’s the only Place of Power we visit in Control, Remedy teases that The Oldest House is not the only Place of Power that exists in this world. We’ll have to wait and see what else we learn about Control’s mysterious setting when it releases this summer.

Click the banner below to visit our coverage hub for Control, which will be updated throughout the month with exclusive interviews, features, videos, and more.

Categories: Games

Hello Games Announces No Man's Sky Online As An Update

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 13:00
Publisher: Hello Games Developer: Hello Games Release: August 9, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

After a bumpy and controversial launch, No Man's Sky has steadily improved over the years, culminating with a massive expansion in the form of No Man's Sky Next last year. Now Hello Games is announcing the next step in No Man's Sky's direction with what they're calling No Man's Sky Beyond. The first part of that that is No Man's Sky Online, which is a massive push for a social online experience.

Check out a very, very short teaser for Beyond below.

Click here to watch embedded media

In terms of No Man's Sky Online, Hello Games is eager to emphasize the ways people have been playing the game since Next.

"No Man's Sky Online includes a radical new social and multiplayer experience which empowers players everywhere in the universe to meet and play together," Hello Games wrote in a release. "Whilst this brings people together like never before, and has many recognizable online elements, we don’t consider No Man’s Sky to be an MMO - it won't require a subscription, won’t contain microtransactions, and will be free for all existing players."

Hello Games say it will offer more details about No Man's Sky Online and the other aspects of Beyond soon, but for right now, fans can look forward to more No Man's Sky in the future.

Categories: Games

Jump Force's DLC Roadmap Announced

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 03/15/2019 - 03:30

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Spike Chunsoft Release: February 15, 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Bandai Namco has announced Jump Force's slate of DLC through August – featuring nine characters, including Seto Kaiba from Yu-Gi-Oh! – with more to come.

Kaiba and two other characters (TBA) are part of May's paid DLC component, and while three more are coming in August, it looks like the final trio won't come out until some time after that.

These fighters can be bought individually, and they are included in the game's Fighters Pass. The DLC also includes free content such as events, costumes, and a new stage: Valley of the End.

Here's the list direct from publisher Bandai Namco.

April

Free Update

  • Clan feature
  • Vertex event
  • New avatar costumes

May

Free Update

  • Online Link Mission
  • Raid Boss Event
  • New stage: World Tournament Stage

Paid DLC

  • Seto Kaiba and two other playable characters
  • Avatar costumes and skills

June

Free Update

  • Arena event
  • New avatar costumes

July

Free Update

  • Tournament event
  • New avatar costumes

August

Free Update

  • New avatar costumes
  • New stage: Valley of the End

Paid DLC

  • Three new playable characters
  • Avatar costumes and skills
Categories: Games

We Didn't Start The Fire

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 22:35
Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: DICE Release: November 15, 2018 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

When Battlefield V was first revealed Battlefield V, they announced a new mode called Firestorm, but was ultimately DICE's take on the Battle Royale genre. The studio said they were big fans of the genre and wanted to do one internally, but it couldn't make it in time for launch. Now, five months after launch, and six months from the original intended release, the mode is finally getting an official reveal in the form of a cinematic.

You can check out the reveal trailer for Firestorm below.

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There's parts of the trailer that kind of feel like Bad Company, which I'm into, but there's not a lot to gleam from it right now. Actual gameplay won't be coming for another week or so, but until then, at least we have a sense of its tone. The full mode will release on March 25.

You can find our review of Battlefield V right here.

Categories: Games

Photographs From The Creator Of 1000000 And You Must Build A Boat Releases In April

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 15:53

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Publisher: EightyEight Games Developer: EightyEight Games Release: April 3, 2019 Platform: PC, iOS, Android

The next game from Luca Redwood, the creator of 10000000 and You Must Build a Boat, has a release date. Photographs is coming to mobile devices and PC on April 3.

Photographs is a narrative driven puzzle game that features a handful of tragic short stories that each has a distinct puzzle mechanic attached to it. For more on Photographs, you can read about why we're excited for it right here.

Categories: Games

The Creators Of Left 4 Dead Announce Back 4 Blood

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 15:13

There are no screenshots or trailers yet, unfortunately, but the studio behind Evolve that is made of the creative minds behind Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2, announced a partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive today to make a cooperative zombie shooter called Back 4 Blood.

The name, Back 4 Blood is an obvious callout to the studios' previous work. In the press release for the game, co-founder and design director Chris Ashton is quoted saying, “It’s hard to overstate what an awesome opportunity this is. We get to return to a genre that was born in our studio with over ten years of additional experience and zombie ideas racked up in our brains.” Regarding whether or not this is Left 4 Dead 3, Turtle Rock's community manager writes, "No. Back 4 Blood is our own brand new, original IP. You’ll be able to shoot up a lot of zombies like in Left 4 Dead, but there’s a whole lot of new stuff in Back 4 Blood which makes it unique."

According to the game's FAQ page, it is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC at some point, it will have a campaign and PvP, it's not a battle royale, and pricing has not been decided yet. Turtle Rock's community manager writes, "We haven’t locked down a price point yet, but the game will be a premium, AAA title."

For more on Turtle Rock Studios, you can watch the video below to learn all about its history.

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[Source: turtlerockstudios.com]

Categories: Games

Office Life Horror Game Yuppie Psycho Releases In April

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 03/14/2019 - 00:15
Publisher: Another Indie Developer: Baroque Decay Release: April 25, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

You might not be familiar with indie horror game Yuppie Psycho, but the scary little pixel art title will be landing on Steam in about a month, ready to make going into the office every day that much scarier.

The game was first announced in 2016, then got some console versions announced last year, but has been pretty quiet for a little while now. The game's designer started developing the game after leaving his corporate job and wanting to express the hellishness that is working for the man with literal hellishness. 

You can check out the trailer below to get a better idea for what Yuppie Psycho is all about.

Click here to watch embedded media

Yuppie Psycho is coming to PC first on April 25, but plans have been announced for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch versions somewhere down the line, though it is not clear when. It will be interesting to see how the game blends the real life experiences of man being the real monster with actual other monsters.

Categories: Games

Anchors Aweigh

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 03/13/2019 - 02:00
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Ganbarion Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

One Piece: World Seeker is only a few days away from release, giving players eager for Bandai Namco's next big anime game the chance to take Strawhat pirate Luffy into the open world for the first time. To celebrate the game's impending release, we're getting one last official look at the title with a brand new launch trailer to take a look at.

Take a gander at the title's story and action below.

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The trailer shows off the original characters made for the game and a lot of returning ones, like the inimitable Buggy the Clown, one of the most dangerous pirates in the world.

One Piece: World Seeker releases on March 15 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Strategy With A Supernatural Twist

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 22:18
Publisher: Suspicious Developments Developer: Suspicious Developments Release: TBA Rating: Not rated Platform: PC

Tom Francis is the designer behind the acclaimed titles Gunpoint and Heat Signature, so when he has a new project in the works, you should pay attention. Today, we found out exactly what that new project is, and it involves using wizards to knock people through windows. 

Tactical Breach Wizards is a small-scale strategy game that involves using a squad of magical characters, like Riot Priests and Witch Cops. Unlike many strategy games that involve nail-biting decisions and crossed fingers, Tactical Breach Wizards has a generous rewind feature that lets you experiment with your options and take back moves that don't turn out the way you expect.

To learn more about the game, you can watch Tom Francis play it himself in the video below, explaining the mechanics and intent as he goes along.  Tactical Breach Wizards currently does not have an announced release window, and the game's Steam page just says it's coming out "when it's done."

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Categories: Games

To The Moon Developer Teases New Murder Thriller Project Impostor Factory

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 18:50
Developer: Freebird Games Release: 2020

When To The Moon released in 2011, the narrative adventure game was beloved by fans for its strong and ethically dubious story. While developer Freebird Games has been hard at work at various things, they have also teased what appears to be a similar narrative follow-up in the form of a murder thriller called Impostor Factory.

You can check out the very short teaser, and I emphasize the teaser aspect, below.

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The developer has described the game as "a time-resetting thriller-mystery that involves a series of bloody murders," which sounds like a fun romp. I notice they did not necessarily say you were solving these murders, just that it involves them.

Impostor Factory is expected to drop in 2020, though the platforms have yet to be announced. If it's anything like To The Moon, though, it will likely run on everything.

Categories: Games

Power Rangers: Battle For The Grid Gameplay Trailer Showcases Teamwork

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 14:00

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Publisher: nWay Developer: nWay Release: April 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid is a 3v3 tag fighting game, and the title's latest gameplay trailer shows how to use your allies to brutal effect.

Players can gang-up with their teammates to coordinate attacks, and today's trailer also gives a glimpse at a Megazord ultra, which can deliver a drill to the face of Tommy's opponents. 

For more on the game, take a look at this recent trailer featuring Lord Drakkon.

Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid comes out in April as a digital download-only title ($14.99) for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. It releases for PC later in 2019.

Categories: Games

Objects In Space Review - Adrift

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 03/12/2019 - 01:39

Space, as I'm sure we're all aware, is incomprehensibly vast. It can be difficult to fathom the scope of large nations in earnest, to say nothing of the endless expanse of the universe. While the vastness of space and its inherent loneliness has been explored time and again in fiction, Objects in Space contributes to that conversation by capturing the beauty of the mundane as you helm a solitary freighter drifting to and fro in a desolate void. Moreover, it positions itself as a rework of '90s adventure games, but with the added draw of real-time combat and problem solving as you and your hauler make your way.

Objects in Space immediately taps your imagination of a grand adventure to the stars. You are one of the first truly interstellar explorers, launched aboard the mighty Cassandra--a colony-spawning vessel with nearly a million inhabitants. Alongside dozens of support craft, the mission of this mega-ship was to create a jumpgate, allowing instant transit back to Earth. Unfortunately, your destination, the Apollo Cluster, was all but barren, putting a major kink in the plan. Even worse, due to some unexpected anomalies, a few of the accompanying ships in Cassandra's support fleet arrived decades later than intended--including yours.

When you finally arrive, your ship is spinning out of control thanks to damage sustained on the trip. A friendly passerby quickly offers their assistance, guiding you through the repairs and introducing you to the basics of your ship. Life in Apollo Cluster is surprisingly low-tech, despite its interstellar nature. As a result, you'll be listening the telltale squeal of metal scraping rock or the klaxon warning of an inbound projectile.

Flight is a decidedly sensory experience in Objects in Space. You're planted at the center of an array of controls, dials, knobs, and monitors. Important data is often split across multiple screens (which is to say both in-game view screens and your own real-world vantage point), with engineering info being kept to a seperate station than the helm or comms. with the constant feed of environmental information, you're always juggling a few different streams of information and responsibilities at any given point.

It's common to set off in a direction and accidentally end up in a pirate-packed nebula or anomaly. These threats require hands-on scanning, and rapid course adjustments. If you don't have enough speed, you can flip off nonessential systems and give the engines a full burn. The sum of these small decisions about piloting, maneuvering and maintenance are often quite impressive, and leave you with the distinct sensation that your experience and your knowledge of your ship get you out of trouble. It's quite a bit to manage, but your trek through the stars gets its texture from the emergent narrative of your choices.

The set-up and execution both work together to set the stage for a great bit of speculative fiction and an excuse to dump you into sociological crucible with only your ship as a trusty companion. In many respects, how you play and what happens along your journey is a vital component of the experience. And by simulating all the mundane bits of space travel, it asks you to fully inhabit the role of space captain at the edge of the cosmos. What you encounter and how you grapple with it becomes an intrinsic part of not just the story, but the story you compose hand-in-hand with the game.

The granularity of the simulation helps build a relationship between you and your ship. Drifting in the black, your ship is your companion. It's the only thing protecting your flesh and bone from the utter lethality of radiation, micro-meteorites, and, of course, that lung-rending vacuum. You'd expect it, then, to be a tough machine--and many ships are, to a point--but they're also vulnerable. When you jump, every system needs to reboot, selling the idea that this is a tremendous feat--one that not even this rugged, mechanical beast can handle.

Your ship can hide secrets and quirks, too. You may or may not discover window shutters, posters, or the like on your particular model. The layout of each ship and system is markedly different. Parts can be swapped out, but only at dock. Changes to your companion are thus a big deal, requiring you to plot a course and go through all the standard docking procedures, and then recruit the help of the station's robotic arms to rearrange things. When it breaks down or gets hit by just about anything, you feel it. Objects in Space uses its aesthetics--both visual and ludic--to craft an enchanting atmosphere.

Objects in Space is committed to its own brand of realism, fashioned from the experience of inhabiting a place. As such, your ship's status is linked to your capabilities; as your ship takes damage, systems will work sporadically before finally giving out. This creates a bit of a moving target--your goal is always to survive, but the challenge grows when you're carrying battle damage from a prior encounter or your sensors are spotty. As a point of contrast, though, you'll also have plenty time to simply “live” in your ship, as it were.

Because this is space, when you are ready to dart off, your course will usually take several minutes or longer. Most of that is downtime, though, unless some obstacle or scenario arises. And it's here that you get quiet moments with little but the hum of your drives and the synth music from your ship's radio to keep you company. These segments of peace do a lot to punctuate the frantic crisis management that permeates many missions.

The obstacles of your journey are somewhat predictable. Pirates, asteroids, and so on are all pretty standard fare, though how you grapple with and overcome them is always unique. With such a broad array of options and tactics to use--dumping cargo, creative flying, etc.--you're mostly limited by your imagination and cleverness. Some strategies, like flipping your ship into a weird position, drawing others into a fight, or nixing non-essential systems to save up power for a massive engine burn, when executed well, give you the feeling of being not just a brilliant captain, but the entire crew of a much larger spacecraft. There's a raw, almost space cowboy feeling that emerges after a few encounters that permeates the game. And, provided that you keep flying, you'll feel like a hotshot scoundrel in no time.

Those with affinity for the kind of nuanced technical challenges of running a space freight business will be enraptured, but such players will be far from the only ones. In its best moments, Objects in Space can work a unique kind of magic. Few other games pull away the barriers between ship and captain so completely, and yet lean so hard on the mundane. Pulling yourself away from the real world and allowing the mysteries and adventure soak in can take a bit, but once you're settled into your chair and piloting, you'll find there you'll find there's no place quite like it anywhere--be it our world or its own.

Categories: Games

You're A Wizard

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 03/11/2019 - 13:59

Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Developer: Niantic Inc. Release: 2019 Platform: iOS, Android

There are maybe a handful of video games in the world that can claim to have captured an entire population’s attention at once. Whether or not people played Pokémon Go, everyone knew about the mobile title that birthed viral videos of cars crashing, awkward campaign slogans, and was the leading cause of running crowds in public spaces for months at a time. For any developer, following up such a huge success is not an easy task, especially with such a well-known and regarded property like Pokémon. With Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, Niantic might have found the formula for a game with more potential than even Pokémon Go.

Wizards Unite takes place years after the Harry Potter books and movies, well after the Battle of Hogwarts that ended the Second Wizarding War, but has its tentacles in all time periods of the Harry Potter universe. Magical items throughout history are appearing in the real world, including creatures, artifacts, and significant moments in time. The British Ministry of Magic has tried to investigate what it is calling the Calamity and, in conjunction with the International Statute of Secrecy, has established a task force of witches and wizards to help them weed out the confounding magic that keeps worming its way into the muggle world.

The player is one of the many special agents of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, entrusted with the responsibility of investigating these magical traces found around the world.

Based largely around the foundations set up by Niantic’s previous games Ingress and Pokémon Go, Wizards Unite puts players in their real locations and has them hunt virtual items through their phone screen. At first glimpse, you would be forgiven for not being able to tell the difference between Niantic’s offerings, but Wizards Unite makes a number of changes around the edges to feel different.

When investigating a trace, players aim their camera around to find three dots on the ground and tap it to reveal the magic hiding behind it. These encounters come from all over the Harry Potter universe, like meeting a chained-up Demiguise or Harry himself in full Quidditch gear being soul-sucked by a Dementor. They’re all modeled in 3D and can be walked around with your phone so you can get up close and personal with your Harry Potter lore, even if you probably don’t want to get too close to a Dementor in real life.

Upon actually engaging with the magic, players are given a line to trace in different shapes. Whether you can dispel the magic or not is somewhat of a dice roll, determined by its threat level and your speed and accuracy with tracing the shape. There is no guarantee that you will be able to dissipate the magic, but you are given a number of tries to do it, which is good news for people who do not work well under pressure.

If successful, the “foundable” is then logged into your registry, a sprawling book in your menu that places your various discoveries into a collection of artwork of all the various artifacts, creatures, people, and what have you that you have seen so far. When you complete a page of the registry, you can prestige it to start collecting again. Niantic has said that the game will launch with over 100 encounters, though they expect to add more over time.

Fans of the series can expect a full narrative to go along with all this wizarding as players work to solve the mystery of what exactly is happening to the world. The story is told in a non-linear fashion and encourages players to go out beyond their usual haunts to find nuggets of narrative in different places, most of it fully voice-acted. Niantic hemmed and hawed a little when I asked if the story had any involvement from Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling, so it does not seem like Rowling fans looking for a definitive canon story will find what they are looking for in Wizards Unite. They do, however, describe it as a deep, multi-year narrative, so there will still be plenty of meat on the bone.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Harry Potter without some sense of world-endangering conflict, so players will often have to battle against witches and werewolves and all manner of villains and bestiary. Battles take place somewhat similarly to foundable encounters, but put you at risk of getting knocked out. When engaging with a werewolf, for example, players have to use the touchscreen to aim at the creature with a wand, then trace a line to cast a spell. When on defense, more line-tracing will be used to determine how many hit points you lose when blocking the enemy’s attack. Sloppy defense will result in you taking more damage than you can dish out and you will lose your chance at defeating the enemy.

Instead of gyms, this time around Niantic is taking players into wizarding challenges, multiplayer fortresses that pit parties against groups of enemies. Players can pick job classes of Magizoologist, Professor, and Auror, each with different skill trees as they progress. When taking on fortresses, it makes sense to have a mixed group of professions, as enemies are weaker to some professions than others, and skills can be used to debilitate your enemies or aid your teammates. Successfully defeating a fortress nets the group prizes and unlocks the next tier, so the landmarks that house these challenges are likely to be a popular spot for getting items.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is definitely an interesting first step using Pokémon Go’s foundations as a springboard, but it remains to be seen how well Niantic can distinguish the two products. Licenses aside, telling the difference between the two games is not easy, so there might not be anything for lapsed Pokémon Go fans to latch on to quite yet. Once you dig deeper, though, Wizards Unite could definitely end up being the thing that takes its predecessor’s mantle and captures the world’s attention once again.

Categories: Games

Latest Trailer Has Ryo Learn Some New Moves

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 03/09/2019 - 23:10

Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: Ys Net Release: August 27, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

Shibuya Productions, one of the publishers helping to release Shenmue III (along with Deep Silver and some help from Sony), has released a new trailer of Shenmue III.

After being defeated by a fairly tough brute, Ryo begins to solve the mystery behind the Phoneix Mirror, and also learns some new fighting moves from from an old man who knew his father before he passed away. The trailer is fairly quick but should act as a good sampler of what players can expect from the long-awaited and much-anticipated sequel when it hits August 27 on PS4 and PC.

Click here to watch embedded media

Categories: Games

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