Games

Dive Into The Unique Detective Mechanics

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 17:35

Publisher: Bigben Interactive Developer: Frogwares Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Many games have drawn heavy inspiration from the works of H.P. Lovecraft, but The Sinking City hopes to set itself apart. Set in Oakmont, Massachusetts in the 1920s, players assume the role of private investigator Charles Reed, a war veteran slowly slipping into the grips of insanity. The city is suffering from flooding caused by something supernatural, and Charles must survive the descent into madness while uncovering the mysteries plaguing the town.

Developer Frogwares is adamant that The Sinking City will not hold players' hands. This means no objectives on the map, no obvious or straightforward quests, and no waypoints. Instead, players need to use their own cunning alongside the detective skills of Charles Reed to stave off madness and solve the mysteries of Oakmont.

One of Charles' prime abilities is his Mind's Eye, which helps him notice small details in crime scenes. He also has Retrocognition, which lets him recreate a crime if the player is smart enough to figure out the puzzles. Charles can also cross-reference records from the library, city hall, and the police station using his Mind Palace, helping him draw conclusions based on evidence.

You can see Charles' detective abilities in action in the new trailer below.

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The Sinking City launches on PS4, Xbox One, and PC this year.

Categories: Games

Fortnite Season 8 Has Started

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 15:01

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Publisher: Epic Games Developer: Epic Games Release: July 25, 2017 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS

Season 8 of Fortnite starts today, bringing with it a treasure hunt, giant volcano, pirate ships, points of interest, new Battle Pass, an Apex Legend-like ping system, and more.

The season revolves around a giant volcano that has appeared, with Pirates, Ninjas, and other fighters searching and skirmishing for treasure and loot as they dodge lava and explore new areas like the Lazy Lagoon and Sunny Steps.

Along with the new season comes Update v8.00, touching everything from Creative mode to adding new hero-loadout system in Save the World, bug fixes, and other changes. Check out the full patch notes here.

Naturally, the Season 8 Battle Pass is also available, with over 100 exclusive rewards (including the Blackheart and Hybrid progressive outfits) for 950 V-bucks. Check out more on the pass in the trailer below.

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[Source: Epic Games]

Categories: Games

Home Stretch

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 15:00

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Ganbarion Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

A few years ago, One Piece very quietly hit the milestone of the best-selling manga series by volume of all time, surpassing even the classic Dragon Ball. Yet this success never really permeated the American zeitgeist the way some contemporaries and rivals have for whatever reason. Bandai Namco is hoping that its newest One Piece game, titled World Seeker, will help turn that tide and expose the series to new people in the west. Ahead of the game’s release in a few weeks, I went hands-on with the core gameplay in Bandai Namco’s open world title.

The game’s intro sets up its story: during a heist on an island, the Strawhat pirates realize they’ve been tricked, and Luffy, pretending to surrender to the Navy and the World Government, turned out to be quite real. After things go sideways, the crew is scattered about around the Prison Islands under the jurisdiction of the powerful Warden Isaac, from whom Luffy only barely escaped with his life after a fight. Once Strawhat wakes up, he meets a rebellion group lead by a woman named Jeanne that wants to take the islands back from Isaac and promises to help Luffy find his crew.

In terms of authenticity, Bandai Namco and developer Ganbarion are pulling out all the stops with World Seeker. Not only are Jeanne and Isaac designed by One Piece artist and writer Eiichiro Oda, but Oda oversaw the game’s story as a whole. While there’s no English dub for World Seeker, all of the characters have the same voice actors from the TV show, so fans won’t suffer any soundalikes that don’t sound quite right.

In the first section, I was tasked with crossing a long bridge to meet with a Devil Fruit user that Jeanne suspects might be one of Luffy’s crewmates. While the game has stealth mechanics, they’re not incredibly involved, and mostly center around sneaking up to enemies using a barrel or just dropping in before they know what hit them. Enemy vision and hearing ranges aren’t short, however, so sneaking is usually a better option. Eventually, Luffy discovers the Devil Fruit user he heard about was Smoker, a Marine officer who doesn’t particularly like young the supernova pirate. The two do battle and Smoker gets called off somewhere else before he can get serious.

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During battle, Luffy can change modes between his standard exploration mode and a more-battle focused mode. The exploration mode has dashes and quieter stealth takedowns, while the battle mode applies haki to his limbs for slower and stronger attacks. This also exchanges his dodge for a block and is good for larger explosions that you can’t fully dodge out of the way from. Proper switching of both styles can be key to fighting off bosses.

The second section I played was to free Franky, the Strawhats’ cyborg-like ship engineer who was being held in a multi-level underwater prison. As Luffy is a Devil Fruit user himself, he can’t swim at all, so he has to deactivate locks on his way down to drain water from the building. You can sneak your way down by hiding around corners and avoiding lasers and confrontation or do what I did and just go as loud and fast as humanly possible. Fortune favors the bold, as the last three locks had to be activated within three minutes and any interruption to the process restarts it, so wrecking house seemed the best way to do it. At the bottom of the prison was a Pacifista, a robotic miniboss that shoots laser beams at you, but it is pretty easily disposed of.

Finally, I just got to swing around the various parts of Prison Island. The open world game is surprisingly large and Luffy’s main method of traversal is to grab onto various anchor points and slingshot his way across the island. While it may be tempting to want to swing around like Spider-Man, it doesn’t really work that way, and a lot of your more finely tuned movement will have to be done on the ground using Luffy’s feet. As the game progresses and you earn skill points, you can invest them into traversal to earn things like better swinging or short hovering bursts.

While exploring the open world, I could burst into small Marine forts and take their treasures, which usually held crafting materials. Crafting lets you make different kinds of items to equip, like a choker that increases attack power or a ring that gives Luffy more critical hits. There’s also a cooking minigame with Sanji and Chopper, but it was not yet unlocked in the save I played.

Dotted across the islands are villagers which have sidequests, most of which are extremely simple requests for certain numbers of specific items. World Seeker has a karma system wherein the more sidequests Luffy does and the more people he helps, the more the island’s populace will come to count on and appreciate him and thus offer more quests. Calling it a karma system might be a misnomer, though, as I do not believe there’s any way for Luffy to get the populace to actually dislike him.

I stated a few months ago that I believe World Seeker feels influenced by Metal Gear Solid V and, now that I have gotten a fuller picture of the game, I still think that comparison holds. That said, it is nowhere near as polished as a game like that, despite the delay it received into 2019. This is a game that will still benefit from keeping expectations in check, even if it is one of the most ambitious anime action titles I’ve seen yet.

Categories: Games

Dark Zone Trailer Teases The Horrors That Await Within

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 15:00

Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The Division 2 open beta starts tomorrow, which will give the majority of people their first taste of how the Green Poison messed up the nation's capital. When the disease spread like wildfire through the city, officials tried to squelch it with a hastily concocted antidote, but that only made matters worse. 

The latest trailer for The Division 2 outlines the mystery of this poorly conceived plan, a story that will unravel as you venture into each of the three dark zones in the game. The first of these, Dark Zone East, is available to explore in the open beta.

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To learn more about the approach Ubisoft is taking to the dark zones, read our comprehensive guide, as well as our interview with creative director Terry Spier. You can play the open beta from March 1-4. If you're planning on participating, you can get a jump on the action and pre-load the beta now. 

The full game launches on March 15 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. 

Categories: Games

The First Two Hours Make A Strong Case

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 14:00

Publisher: SEGA Developer: SEGA Release: Summer Platform: PlayStation 4

As cliché as it sounds, the district of Kamurocho is as major a part of the Yakuza series as any of its prominent players. Parts of it have been demolished and rebuilt over the years, but the more I step into the shoes of Kazuma Kiryu, the more Kamurocho becomes a familiar “home” to me in a way few other video game locations have. If I want to fill up on junk food, I know where the Wild Jackson is. If I need to find some special oddity for a hapless stranger I’ve been cajoled into helping, I can probably get it at the Don Quijote.

Which is why, as I played a couple of hours of Yakuza spin-off game Judgment, I immediately felt so comfortable. Despite it being something of a fresh start for the series, Judgment feels more like a new way to absorb the seedy atmosphere and memorable stories that spring up all around Kamurocho, even if you’re seeing them through a fresh set of eyes.

Big Shoes To Fill

Judgment stars Takayuki Yagami (played by real-life Japanese actor Takuya Kimura), a lawyer at Kamurocho's Genda Law Office who is a far cry from the fierce but kindhearted Kiryu. He comes off as less sure of himself and more relatable, even as the first scene in my demo establishes him as one of the most sought-after attorneys at Genda. When his office rival the office, Masamichi Shintani, sarcastically praises him for being so popular, Yagami demures. He isn’t exactly shy, but doesn’t exude the same sort of loner self-assuredness Kiryu does.

In fact, Judgment quickly establishes that a key part of Yagami’s story will be learning to deal with moral conflict. The reason he’s so in demand is because he was able to get an acquittal in a criminal court case (Shintani notes the conviction rate in these cases is 99 percent), a badge of honor that's quickly turned besmirched when it’s revealed the person he got acquitted, Shinpei Okubo, has murdered his girlfriend Emi Terasawa and burned down their house. Watching the scene in which Okubo is arrested as the house burns with Terasawa inside, I get the sense this is a situation where, while it may look obvious he did it, a series of unlikely coincidences means this isn’t what it looks like. That seems to happen a lot around this town.

Breaking The Language Barrier

My demo featured English voice acting for every character in cutscenes – a first for a Yakuza game since the original included an infamously star-studded cast, but terrible voice direction. On top of that, the voice acting and lip movements in the English dub have been re-synced to match the English voices. The syncing isn’t perfect (Sega tells me they’re still working on manually getting all the timings just right), but they matched well enough that it didn’t feel like I was watching a dub of a '70s kung fu flick. 

The revamped voice-acting shows off how strong Sega’s localization of recent Yakuza games has been when it comes to capturing the essence of their characters. While some lines and reads are a bit stiff, the localization straddles the line between changing certain phrases to get across their meaning in a way that makes more sense to Western audiences and not losing the Japanese flavor at their core. The English cast is also solid, with Greg Chun delivering a great performance as Yagami that gets across both his  occasionally cocksure attitude as well as his vulnerability.

That said, a lot of the incidental dialogue out in Kamurocho was still in Japanese, which was a bit jarring. It may not give you the offer the most authentic experience, but the dub looks to be viable option this time around, especially for newcomers who’d rather not be beholden to subtitles.

We then flash forward about three years, and Yagami has quit his job at Genda to form the Yagami Detective Agency with Masaharu Kaito, a former member of the Tojo Yakuza clan. As Yagami and Kaito track down a suspicious character incognito, Yagami bumps into a group of rowdy street punks looking to pick a fight.

Combat in Judgment doesn’t deviate from Yakuza’s over-the-top street brawls, but there are some slight changes. Strings, combos, throwable objects, and heat actions (now called EX moves) are still in play, but Yagami is a bit more nimble than Kiryu; he can run up to walls and leap off them to perform devastating attacks mid-air. These new attacks don't seem to change up combat too much, but definitely feel cool when you pull them off. You also have access to two fighting styles, Crane and Tiger, the former of which deals with groups while the latter lasers in on single targets (one cool touch here is that the music changes every time you switch).

Because Yagami isn't Yakuza, he isn't immune to the intervention of police, who will eventually swoop in to break up a fight. I tried intentionally delaying a fight to see what would happen if they showed up. It took a while – longer than I expect any single fight in Judgment to last based on my experience with Yakuza – but the penalty is going to jail and paying a ¥10,000 fine. That's not all that much in the grand scheme of things (especially with the way your purse tends to inflate later on in these games), but a fairly devastating blow early on. After beating up the street punks I gain some SP, which I can use to upgrade and unlock moves. Judgment keeps progression simple by only doling out only one currency, so you won’t be gated by having too many strength points but not enough spirit to unlock a particular skill.

Leaning Into Legwork

Yagami continues to tail his target around town, which introduces how Judgment leans on investigative work to explore Kamurocho’s underbelly. As I come to a side-street intersection where a handful of people resemble the guy I’m looking for, I’m thrown into a first-person view to examine my surroundings and find my target amidst a few lookalikes. After identifying the right person, I need to tail them, (but not too close, lest a suspicion meter begin to fill) for a few blocks and see what he might be up to. When Yagami and Kaito finally corner him he flees, and by pulling off some quicktime events as the camera does most of the tailing for me.

As Yagami catches up with his target he strikes back, which means I have rough him up a bit to prevent him from escaping. Kaito then arrives to take the lead, his Yakuza ties showing as leans a little too hard into subduing the guy. When he threatens to sue, Yagami shows him his lawyer’s badge to scare him off, even though he hasn’t practiced law in three years. It’s an encounter that shows that while Yagami lives by a moral code, his ethics are a bit more fluid than Kiryu's, which could make for a different kind of tale later on.

After a title card and intro sequence heavily reminiscent of a Japanese TV drama, I'm re-introduced to Kamurocho, as Yagami gives quick overview of what’s been going on recently: The district is as chaotic as ever, with an Anonymous-style gang of thugs roaming the streets and evading police capture, and the public is caught up in a series of murders of Yakuza members, the gang members' bodies left unceremoniously lying around with their eyes gouged out.

Yagami is quickly thrust into the latter mystery. Although he’s left the Genda Law Office, he still occasionally turns to them for private-eye work, this time swinging by their office with a bag of dorayaki treats to bribe them into giving him potential leads. Ryuzo Genda himself then offers up a divorce case that might be up Yagami’s alley, though it’s quickly trumped when Saori Shirosaki, another lawyer at Genda (who happens to eat all of the dorayaki Yagami brought in before he could hand them out), gets a call about the murder of another Yakuza – the third in three months. Shintani is already on the case, but Genda wants Yagami to join up with him to tackle it.

Before fully diving into the particulars of the slaying, I’m left to my own devices to explore Kamurocho, which offers its own avenues for investigation. After making a beeline to Club Sega to see what games the machines have on them (this time around it’s Virtua Fighter 5, Fighting Vipers, Fantasy Zone, and Puyo Puyo, though none of the machines were working in my demo), I'm able to find hotspots around Kamurocho.

Similar to how they work in Yakuza 6, these areas offer the chance to work up a relationship with the people who hang around for "Friend Events" that take place once you've followed a certain person's story long enough, or lead to short one-off cases. I hit up a few of hotspots on my map, but besides overhearing how a smoker was dramatically affected by seeing a random girl on the street smile at him, I wasn’t able to strike up any interesting side missions during my time with the game, though the KamuroGo app on your phone lets you see what activities you can explore.

Something Of An Ace Attorney

Getting back on track, the suspect in this case is the captain of the Matsugane family (a Tojo clan subsidiary), Kyohei Hamura. Both Yagami and Genda have some ties to the Matsugane family; Matsugane himself paid Yagami’s way through law school, and the Genda Law Office has handled the family’s legal troubles in the past. The police suspect Hamura because security camera footage taken on the last night anyone saw the victim, a member of a the rival Kansai clan named Toshiro Kume, outside of the Amour club with Hamura and some of the Matsugane crew. Worse yet, Hamura himself admits he cleared the club out a few hours before Kume was found dead, explicitly to beat up Kume.

As I investigate the case, tracking down leads at Amour, meeting with Shintani to discuss the security footage, and visit a sauna to check out Hamura’s alibi (he claims he visited it after leaving Amour and was there when the body was found), the pacing of the narrative begins to veer from Yakuza’s, as it focuses more on the timelines, details, and bits of info necessary to solve the case. I didn’t necessarily need to retain too many of those details myself for the most part (several conversations throughout my demo reiterated the finer points of the case), but putting together events that have already happened gives Judgment’s story a slightly different feel.

I also had to use what I knew of the case as I talked with various people about it. A conversation system has you choosing dialogue options to guide the conversation. These aren’t “choices” in that you’re altering the story in any way, but instead choosing in what order to ask questions. This is gamified by a system in which you’re given bonus SP for asking the most salient questions first, with a streak given for multiple correct choices. It’s a fairly small bonus, but it gave me a reason to pay attention, think critically, and approach the situation like a detective would, which made the whole approach feel like an Ace Attorney game.

At Amour, Yagami is told the manager working there the night Hamura had the club cleared out isn’t there today. Yagami then decides to meet with an old friend of his: Makoto Tsukomo, a reclusive informant who makes a living out of tracking people online. Using an app that isolates people based on the GPS coordinates they use while posting on the social-media app Chitter, we’re able track him down by the last post he made, at a nearby Sushi place.

He plays dumb when Yagami meets up with him, but I’m able to cycle through a few bits of evidence I have at my disposal, including the security-camera footage I was able to get from Shintani when I met with him, and he takes me back to Amour and tells me what he knows. The game notifies you when your case file is updated, but the first time I saw the evidence screen, all of those pieces were new to me, as I never got a real sense that I was building up an in-game collection of evidence to use later on. I wasn’t penalized for presenting the wrong evidence, though, so I was able to give it a couple of tries before moving the conversation forward, using the 10 p.m. footage instead of the 9 p.m. footage to seal the deal.

Yagami and the manager then head back to Amour, where the manager explains he didn’t think the way Hamura beat up Kume was all that harsh (certainly not enough to kill him), and that the incident seemed to have ended around midnight, about two hours before the body turned up and perhaps enough time for Hamura to have an alibi.

After following a few leads, Yagami heads back to the his office, only to discover Mafuyu Fujii, a public prosecutor, has come to visit. It’s quickly made clear they had more than a professional relationship going; after Fujii leaves the office, Kaito points out she could have simply called to relay her news (that Yagami’s other legal rival, Keigo Izumida, will be prosecuting the case), but decided to make the trip out to the office (as well as personally tell Yagami she doesn’t think he’s cut out for detective work). Although Fujii points out they never dated, Yagami rushes after her when she leaves to walk her home, only to have his arm put in a hold by chief prosecutor Kunihiko Mortia, who’s accompanied by Izumida himself. After relitigating the details of the Okubo case (Izumida claims Yagami’s defense was full of holes, and Yagami wants to know what, exactly, was so wrong with his defense), the trio of prosecutors head off, leaving Yagami to continue digging into the case.

A Solid Opening Argument

My demo ended here, but even in these brief two hours, I think I have a good idea of what Judgment will be when it releases in the West later this year, and I’m pretty into it. While the gameplay changes and additions get you to think more like a detective instead of an action-movie hero, I suspect there's a chance they might wear on me across 20 or so hours of play. They're minor enough that I don't think I'll them too much, though, and streamlining progression while offering more options in combat is a solid choice, though I can’t say how these changes will play out long-term.

The shift in perspective, however, is a much bigger deal, and Judgment is a more exciting game for it. Although I missed Kiryu and his supporting cast at first, Judgment’s motley crew is already growing on me, as it can explore relationships that would have been out of place before. And, considering the plot (not to mention the location) doesn’t stray that far from its parent series, I wouldn’t be surprised if a familiar character or two showed up down the line. More importantly, I’m glad Judgment is filled with the same garish streetlights, colorful locations, enticing plotlines, and endearing characters that have made Kamurocho such a strong locale to return to time and again. Add a few side missions that quickly go off the rails thanks to some certified weirdos and maybe some suspenseful trial sequences (with some shocking turnabouts?), and we should be all set.

Categories: Games

Ape Out Review - Monkey Business

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 02/28/2019 - 14:00

Ape Out is, at heart, a game about jazz. The soundtrack is crafted by your improvised actions as you careen a runaway ape through the game’s levels, leaving a path of destruction and bloodshed in your wake. It’s high energy and exciting, even if, by the end, it feels like you’re playing the same basic tunes over and over.

It's a very simple game, at least in terms of how it's played--You're an ape, and you must run through each level without getting blown up or shot three times by human enemies. The camera is positioned above you, giving you a Hotline Miami-esque omnipotence when it comes to where your enemies are positioned. You can push enemies, who will splat and die if they hit a solid object, or you can grab them, at which point they'll fire at least one shot from their gun straight forward, hopefully into another person. A grabbed enemy can be thrown with more precision, which is especially handy if they're wearing an explosive pack, which will blow up and take out anything within its blast radius. You'll spend most of your time running forward, smacking enemies as you go, occasionally snaking away to avoid a mob or stopping to rip a steel door off its hinges.

But the way Ape Out elevates its relatively straightforward gameplay loop is by evoking the feeling of creating music, thanks to Matt Boch's captivating procedural soundtrack, which generates a drum-heavy percussion beat under the action. During lulls, the music fades to a calm, but when the action gets frenetic the drums and cymbal crashes kick in hard, and there are occasional horns and contextual changes depending on what's happening in any given stage. Additionally, the levels are presented as though they were albums, with each new subsection representing a track, complete with transitions from Side A to Side B at the midway point. It's a fascinating system which gives those moments where you're in the middle of a killing spree a significant extra kick. It's a repetitive game--you're ultimately doing the same thing continually over the whole course of the game--but it can also be quite propulsive and thrilling, especially when you're on a good run.

The stages themselves are starkly designed, with limited color palettes and simple geometric shapes. The ape itself is a single orange shape, and enemies are demarcated by a handful of different designs. There's a slight film grain effect over the action that gives everything a subtle jittery quality, and the album motif is even baked into the loading screens, which make the faint scratching noises of a vinyl record that is left on the turntable after the music has finished. The game’s greatest strength is how defined and consistent this aesthetic is. The unique art blends perfectly with the soundtrack, making the game's violence a bit more palatable than it might have otherwise been, and its boldness pulls you into the action very well.

It's great that Ape Out has so much style and flair, because it's essential to your investment due to the game's lack of variety. There are slight variations in how each level operates--the third album, for instance, features combustible liquids that can create walls of fire if you throw an explosives expert into them, and in the second (and best) album there are windows that riot police can rappel through--but they never dramatically alter how you need to play the game. A few new enemy types pop up, but the methods you use to deal with them never really change. There are a handful of good sections where the lights go out and you need to track enemy movements based on the beams of their flashlights, and they highlight how much the game could have benefited from more interesting gimmicks and variety. It’s a shame that Ape Out isn’t more playful, because whenever new ideas are introduced, they’re always welcome--there just aren’t that many of them. The game is short, yet some levels still feel superfluous and samey. I kept hoping a level would come along that would fundamentally change how I had to play, but this never happened.

Levels are semi-procedurally generated, so while some landmarks and choke-points will always pop up in roughly the same spot, the exact layout and enemy placements will change. This means that you'll sometimes find yourself in situations where a huge number of enemies swarm you at once, and properly defending yourself is all but impossible. Several times I encountered enemies wearing explosive vests and found that avoiding both their blast radius and gunfire from another enemy was frustrating and futile. The game isn't too difficult on the default difficulty, although there are occasional spikes when a level is a bit longer, which gives enemies more time to put bullets into you.

Ape Out is a game that draws you in with its strong aesthetic style and flair, but it feels short on ideas. When you're barrelling through a room, knocking multiple enemies into walls and watching them explode into puddles of blood, it can be quite exciting. But the game never really rises above being a mild thrill, and a lack the variety means that it’s too repetitive to truly make a strong impact. Ape Out isn't as creative with its level designs and challenges as it is with its soundtrack and art, but as it stands it’s a pleasant, jazzy way to spend a few hours.

Categories: Games

15 Things You Might Have Missed In The Pokémon Sword And Shield Announcement

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 18:50

Publisher: The Pokemon Company, Nintendo Developer: Game Freak Release: Late 2019 Platform: Switch

The Pokémon Company and Nintendo unveiled the Switch's first true, all-new Pokémon RPG with Sword and Shield. We learned about its starters, the new region, and a lot more, but there were lots of little hidden things in the footage, as well. Here are 15 things we noticed.

The starting town seems to be obsessed with Fletchlings

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It's safe to assume this is Sword and Shield's starting area since it is the first area shown, but it also has a big road sign that says 01 in it. You can see birds flying in the sky, which are probably Fletchlings who call that area their home. There is also the Fletchling weather vane, and it looks like there are some nests on the chimney in the background.

Backpacks!

Trainers usually carry a small purse or messenger bag with them, but here the trainers have full-on backpacks. I doubt it will change gameplay dramatically, but it does make more sense considering the amount of stuff you are usually carrying by the end of the game.

Male and Female avatar options

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This has become standard practice for Pokémon over the years, but we're happy to see it return.

There is a Switch console in your trainer's room

It's there in a blink-and-you-will-miss-it cameo (hence the mediocre screenshot – apologies), but there is a Switch console in your bedroom. Historically, your trainer's bedroom has always had the most recent Nintendo home console in their room. It looks like Sword and Shield is no exception.

There are wheelbarrows everywhere

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We're not sure what that's about, honestly.

What are those weird rocks?

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There are rocks with strange symbols on them all over the footage. We're not sure what this means, but it might have something to do with...

The big geoglyph

Again, we're not sure what it means, but it looks cool.

Random battles return

As near as we can tell, it looks like random battles make a return, which is disappointing considering seeing wild Pokémon grazing was one of our favorite new elements of Pokémon Let's Go, Pikachu and Eevee.

Trainer battles return, as well

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This is an obvious thing that is well highlighted in the trailer, but I wanted to include it just in case you missed it.

The camera is still locked

It also looks like the camera is still out of your control and stays locked on an overhead position.

Trains!

There's one right there. Hopefully you can ride it. Or steal from it. You can also see a handful of shops in the bottom of the picture, too.

The starters all seem to work together

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The three starters, Scorbunny, Sobble, and Grookey, all seem to have complementary abilities. In the footage we saw a Scorbunny set fire to some grass, a Sobble put out the fire, and a Grookey restore the grass. Maybe this is a hint at some kind of teamwork mechanic?

It also looks like Sobble can turn invisible?

Here are the confirmed Pokémon so far

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The trailer showed off the three new starters (which you just read about), but also confirmed a lot of returning Pokémon. Here's everyone we saw.

  • Scorbunny
  • Sobble
  • Grookey
  • Pikachu
  • Minccino
  • Wishiwashi
  • Grubbin
  • Rowlet
  • Zweilous
  • Meowstic
  • Wailmer
  • Flygon
  • Braviary
  • Lucario
  • Tyranitar
  • Munchlax
There are professional and amateur arenas

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The footage of the game ends with a trainer wearing a glove (so it won't mess it up their Poké Ball throwing hand, I guess) entering a huge professional arena. The logo on their shoulder is seen elsewhere in the footage, which hints at a new kind of sponsored league, perhaps? Along with the big arena, you can also see a number of smaller arenas, too. Those aren't new to Pokémon, but you don't often see them presented that way.

The Galar region kind of looks like a sword (if you squint)

This is a pieced together shot of the Galar region from the footage. Speculation online points to it being based on Great Britain, which makes a lot of sense. The map also makes it seem like you will be heading north during the duration of the game, which is interesting. Arguably, the most interesting part, though, is if you consider the spire at the top the handle and the giant wall below it a hilt, the whole region kind of looks like a sword. It even kind of comes to a point at the bottom.

There was more hidden in the trailer and additional footage, so let us know if you caught anything. For more on this morning's reveal, head here and here.

Categories: Games

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy Coming To The West On April 9

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 18:45
Publisher: Capcom Developer: Capcom Release: April 9, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Last year, Capcom announced that Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy, an HD remaster of the first three games in the series that originally launched on the Gameboy Advance, will be coming to consoles and PC. Now that the trilogy has been released in Japan, Capcom has revealed that it will be coming to the west in under two months as a digital release.

The three games include Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Ace Attorney: Justice For All, and Ace Attorney: Trials & Tribulations. They're the three titles before Phoenix Wright retired and Apollo Justice took over, but then Capcom simply...brought Phoenix Wright back again after fan outcry. Fans commonly consider the original games, penned by Capcom writer Shu Takumi, to be the best in the series, so I doubt few will complain about the chosen collection.

The remasters have redrawn most of the game's GBA-resolution sprites, which in some cases has left art that was up to interpretation to look a little strange when blown up to 1080p and cleaned. Capcom has mostly moved the series away from physical releases in the west, as even the most recent new games have only been available digitally. If you for some reason can't wait until April, the Japanese version of the game contains an option for English text, as well.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy will be available on April 9 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.

Categories: Games

Trailer Details Free Content Coming After Launch

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 17:37

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Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Ubisoft recently released a new trailer (viewable above) to give fans a better idea of what kind of free content is expected for The Division 2 post launch. These include new campaigns, game modes, specializations, and more.

Some of the biggest additions are three episodes that expand the world with additional narratives, missions, and new modes for both PvP and against AI enemies.

Episode One (titled Outskirts: Expeditions) takes place in the surrounding area of Washington D.C., where players fight to liberate the city in two additional main missions. It will also include a new game mode where you must investigate what happened to a lost convoy. It releases this summer.

As for Episode Two (titled Pentagon: The Last Castle), it releases this Fall. It will include additional main missions and have players storm the Pentagon.

Finally, Episode Three will arrive by Winter, and it'll be the final chapter of The Division 2's story.

Along with these campaigns, players can also expect a new location called Tidal Basin. This is a "new challenging stronghold" that is held by the Black Tusks. An 8-player raid called Operation Dark Hours, the first of its kind for The Division franchise, is also coming. Both Tidal Basin and Operation Dark Hours will release soon after launch.

Ubisoft teases that three new specializations will also arrive alongside the episodes, bringing new signature weapons and skill trees. Details on these so far are slim.

For those that want to get into the post-launch action as soon as possible, they can purchase a Year 1 Pass. This season pass will grant them seven-day early access to all the episodes, access to the specializations as they release, eight classified assignments centered around the fall of D.C., exclusive cosmetics, and more in-game activities like base of operations projects and bounties.

The Division 2 releases soon on March 15 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC. An open beta is happening from March 1 to 4. For more, read our in-depth feature about Dark Zones and the Conflict PvP Mode.

Categories: Games

Get Your First Look At The Region And Starters Of Pokémon Sword And Shield

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 14:30
Publisher: The Pokemon Company, Nintendo Developer: Game Freak Release: Late 2019 Platform: Switch

Today's Pokémon Direct lasted only seven minutes, but it gave aspiring Pokémon Masters a lot to chew on. In addition to finally giving players the official names of Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, as well as showing the first gameplay footage of the first all-new Pokémon RPG for a console, the Pokémon Direct also gave information on the new region players will explore and the starters they can choose from at the dawn of their journey.

In Pokémon Sword and Shield, players explore the Galar region. Director Shigeru Ohmori describes the Galar region as, "an expansive region with many environments, containing idyllic countryside and contemporary cities, vast planes and craggy, snow-covered mountains."

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Players explore this region, catching newly discovered Pokémon as they work their way toward earning the title of Champion.

Aiding players in their quest to be the very best in Sword and Shield are three all-new starters. As usual, players can choose from grass, fire, and water for their initial partner. Grookey is a mischievous and curious grass-type, Scorbunny is an energetic fire-type, and Sobble is a timid water-type.

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Those won't be the only new Pokémon to discover in the Galar region, so we still have much to learn about Pokémon Sword and Shield. We still have a bit of time, however, as the two titles are set to launch on Switch late this year.

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Categories: Games

Pokémon Switch Is Officially Called Sword And Shield

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/27/2019 - 14:04

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Publisher: The Pokemon Company, Nintendo Developer: Game Freak Release: Late 2019 Platform: Switch

The Pokémon Company revealed the names of the next Pokémon games this morning. The titles are Pokémon Sword and Shield taking place in the Galar region. The game is being directed by Pokémon Sun and Moon's director, Shigeru Ohmori. You can head here to learn more about the game's starters and new region.

The games will release in late 2019. You can check out the full Pokémon Direct below.

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You can also check out some screenshots from the game below.

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Categories: Games

Overwatch's Newest Hero Baptiste Is Now Playable On The PTR, Here's What He Can Do

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 19:55
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: May 24, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Yesterday, Blizzard surprisingly announced the newest hero coming to Overwatch, a battle medic by the name of Baptiste. While the developer released a backstory video for the new Haitian hero, there were little to no details about how he might play beyond his balance of healing and hurting. However, now Baptiste is on the PTR, and we have a better sense of what he can do.

Baptiste wields a healing SMG, called the Medic SMG, which has a three-round burst with hitscan. The hitscan means that the bullets just have to be aimed at someone to heal them, there's no travel time from the gun to the target, theoretically making Baptiste the fastest healer with that method. Of course, like Ana, shooting enemies damages them, too.

The alt fire on the gun blasts a healing grenade that does no damage, but heals teammates in an area-of-effect range. The grenade and the SMG have separate ammo counts, so you can switch around as the situation demands.

Baptiste's skill involves creating a regenerative field around him to heal himself and allies, similar to Lucio's music, but differs in that allies do not not have to stay near Baptiste to retain the active regeneration. He also has Exo boots, which allow him to crouch into a superjump for mobility enhancement.

Amplification Matrix, Baptiste's ultimate, creates a matrix field that doubles the damage and healing effects of any friendly projectiles that pass through it, so proper spacing of the matrix can turn the tide of victory.

Blizzard hasn't announced when Baptiste might escape the PTR to join the rest of the servers and console versions, but it probably shouldn't be too long.

Categories: Games

World War Z Co-Op Shooter Gets A Release Date

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 17:42
Publisher: Mad Dog, Focus Home Interactive Developer: Saber Interactive Release: April 16, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

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World War Z, the co-op, third-person shooter, is finally getting a release date: April 16. Announced all the way back in December of 2017, it's been a while since we've heard much about the game's progress, but the impressive  zombie tech behind the large hordes seems to have remained intact from that initial showing.

https://twitter.com/wwzthegame/status/1100349958669168641

The game is co-op up to four player, so it seems to be interested in picking up the slack for the seemingly defunct Left 4 Dead series. We'll just have to wait a couple more months to see if it can match those games' staying power when it launches on PS4, Xbox One, and the Epic Games Store.

Categories: Games

Ni No Kuni II DLC The Tale Of A Timeless Tome Announced

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 15:22

Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Level-5 Release: March 23, 2018 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4

It all starts with dreams of a rabbit in a tuxedo. Ni No Kuni II's The Tale of a Timeless Tome DLC starts when Evan and his friends investigate and find the rabbit, calling himself The Conductor, at the Goldpaw Inn. The subsequent adventure – releasing on March 19 – introduces a new battle arena, combat styles, and more.

The two new Methods are Wizard's Companion and Martha's Method, the first of which harks back to the first game, and you may need them in the new Solosseum Slog arena taking on powerful enemies for new items.

Fans of the series will also like the DLC's first screens, which hint a wedding for Queen Nerea and Nella.

The Tale of a Timeless Tome comes out on March 19 and costs $14.99 or is free if you bought the season pass. 

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Categories: Games

New Overwatch Hero Baptiste Revealed

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 01:15
Publisher: Blizzard Entertainment Developer: Blizzard Entertainment Release: May 24, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Blizzard has abruptly revealed the newest hero for Overwatch, teased recently in a lore release a few days ago. Baptiste, the battle medic, appears to be medic who believes in healing for some and bullets for others.

You can check out Baptiste's backstory trailer below.

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There's no other real information on the character so far, but it does mean that Lucio is no longer the only male support character, so that's certainly growing the roster.

What do you think of Overwatch's newest hero? Let us know in the comments below.

Categories: Games

Trials Rising Review - Bunny-Hopping Along

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 21:38

Trials Rising is a sequel to a franchise that has a lot of things figured out. After multiple entries that have helped refine gameplay that was already good to start off with, Rising doesn't veer too far off the track. It still has a wonderfully diverse set of destinations to visit, each with their own over-the-top track design and goofy finish line antics. Each course still encourages you to repeat it nearly obsessively in the pursuit of that next perfect run to show off online. Trials Rising has the same engrossing gameplay the series is known for, but it offers no new surprises.

Trials Rising is no more complicated to pick up and play than any of its predecessors. You only need to worry about your throttle, brakes, and the pitch of your motorcycle as you race across Rising's many 2D tracks, set in anything from a Russian missile silo to a tomato festival in the Italian countryside. This simplicity in control is complemented by a deep learning curve, challenging you to understand how Trials' physics work. They're not realistic by any stretch, but they do adhere to a set of rules that you'll need to become comfortable with to beat its most challenging courses.

The balance of your motorcycle is the first hurdle. Although you're only given access to three during the lengthy campaign (more can be unlocked using either in-game currency or real money), each of them handles in very different ways. One gives you more thrust from a stationary start but limits your rotational speed in the air, while another has a frame so light that you need to be cautious of applying too much throttle on a straight and having your front wheel fly into the air above you. Trials Rising gives you suggestions on which motorcycles are best for certain courses, and it is fun moving from one extreme to the other in between events and learning to adjust accordingly.

Controlling your motorcycle consists of shifting weight either backwards or forwards, determining whether you're going to gently roll over a hill at the end of a steep climb or see your wheels bounce away from the platform before you hurtle towards failure. It doesn't take long for basic maneuvers to start feeling like second nature. Small actions--such as leaning back to embrace a landing or shifting forward to go down a steep ascent--start blending together to create a tangible flow to Rising's earlier courses.

These levels are less challenging and more instructive, giving you ample room to experiment with Rising's mechanics while also rewarding you well for less-than-perfect finishes. Later courses start increasing the difficulty significantly. Tracks require careful consideration over throttle control and feature more gruelling skills tests, which punish even the slightest miscalculation. You have a large number of events between these two extremes, though, which makes each new challenge feel like an appropriate test of your skills rather than a jarring spike in difficulty.

However, even the most carefully executed runs through a course can become undone by obstacles that rely on seemingly random outcomes instead of skill to overcome. Catapults, exploding platforms, and more add an unpredictable nature to later courses that often feels more frustrating than exciting. A small variation on where you stop on a catapult before it fires you into the air can lead to wildly different outcomes, for example. It's one thing to fail a course and identify where you can get better, but it's another to be having the best run yet only to fail right at the end and not understand how you could've avoided it.

Rising has an incredibly useful training school that has new courses unlock as you progress through the campaign. These events teach you new techniques that give you a deeper understanding of how to control your motorcycle while also providing challenging proving grounds to test how much you've learned. These provide some of the toughest challenges Rising has to offer, but without the stress of needing to finish first in a race or worry about how many times you fail.

New to Rising are contract objectives from in-game "sponsors," which offer an additional level of challenge and extra rewards. With sponsors, courses you've already participated in can be replayed with some additional objectives. Anything from pulling off flips to limiting the number of faults you can have is on the table, tasking you with reprogramming your muscle memory and coming up with new routines on familiar tracks. Some of the most difficult sponsors will require you to finish first across several events; make a mistake along the way and you might as well start over. These are the least interesting of the bunch by virtue of feeling too unforgiving (even by Trials standards), but they're thankfully not required to unlock new events.

Rising's more stunt-focused events are less rewarding. If the rest of Trials Rising only has one toe dipped into a pool of absurdity, these events have the whole leg. You can use the ragdoll physics of your rider to steer balls into a basketball hoop or aim for exploding barrels to try and bounce yourself along a never-ending track. None of these events really test your understanding of Trials' main mechanics and are instead just positioned as quick palate cleansers for in-between events. None of them are precise in the way that other events are, making them less engaging to learn and a slog to play.

All events in Rising contribute to an overall player level, which you increase in order to access to events and unlock gear to customize both your rider and their motorcycles. Customization items are obfuscated in crates that randomly spit out three items at a time, with duplicates becoming a frequent occurrence just a few hours in. Frustratingly, these duplicates aren't immediately turned into in-game currency to save you the effort, instead forcing you to dive into multiple menus for each category of gear and sell them individually. The gear itself isn't varied or visually appealing enough to justify this headache, and it was easy to forget about it entirely after just a few minutes of wrestling with it.

Trials Rising also features a suite of multiplayer options, ranging from public and private multiplayer matches to more intimate--and hilarious--local multiplayer modes. Online multiplayer is straightforward; you join lobbies with up to seven other racers and compete across three courses, with points awarded based on your finishes. Trials plays better in a local multiplayer setting, and Rising's Party mode lets you organize up to eight courses into a single playlist with custom rules that up to four players can compete in. A new tandem motorcycle makes things even sillier. Two players control a single motorcycle through a course, making smooth course runs nigh impossible as you struggle to maintain control. It's a fun distraction that can be played for brief laughs.

Trials Rising isn't a reinvention of the franchise--it's an invitation to lose more hours to new exhilarating, technical, and ridiculous Trials courses.

Rising still lets you create brand-new courses from scratch, and race on any that other players have uploaded, but its tools for construction are still ridiculously complicated to grasp. The course editor has no tutorials on how to get up and running and no templates which you can build upon to make editing slightly quicker. The confusing menus, overwhelming taskbar at the bottom of the screen, and unintuitive movement within the editor make trying to create even just a simple track a needlessly difficult chore.

Trials Rising maintains the engrossing, challenging, and occasionally slapstick gameplay from past entries in the series, building upon it in small ways with a smartly implemented school to teach fundamental skills and modifiers to make events worth revisiting. But it also doesn't fix issues from the past, either. Its track editor remains uninviting to learn, and the more outrageous stunt events and course obstacles frustratingly lean more into random luck than calculated skill. Trials Rising isn't a reinvention of the franchise--it's an invitation to lose more hours to new exhilarating, technical, and ridiculous Trials courses.

Categories: Games

Final Fantasy XII On Xbox One And Switch Gets New Improvements Over Previous Versions

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 20:15
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: July 11, 2017 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4

Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, an HD remaster of the 2006 PlayStation 2 Final Fantasy game, already boasted a number of improvements when it landed on PlayStation 4 and PC, released in 2017 and 2018 respectively. That version of the game was itself based on a Japan-only re-release of the PS2 game from a decade prior, giving western fans something new. Now players who have been patiently waiting for the Final Fantasy XII to come to other consoles, or people looking to buy and play it once again, will have a few extra incentives.

The Xbox One and Switch ports of the game will allow a license change, letting players respec their party members' jobs as they see fit. Additionally, there are more gambit slots for party members, as well as the ability to switch between them with named descriptions, like "Fire Boss" or "Exploration". An improved New Game + mode allows characters to start the game at level 90 and bring over items, weapons, magic, and more from the previous play through.

The Xbox One version sports the X enhancement of running the game at 60 FPS, which was previously only available to the PC. You can check out a new trailer of the game below.

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Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age lands on Xbox One and Switch on April 30.

Categories: Games

The Division 2's Open Beta Adds An Extra Main Mission

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 18:40
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The upcoming open beta for The Division 2 will allow everyone to play a bit of Ubisoft's upcoming live shooter and sequel to 2016's The Division. Even if you played the closed betas that have been hitting over the last month, however, the open beta will still have new content for people eager to play more The Division 2.

The open beta offers one more main mission to the closed beta's two, so there's more content to play with in the current beta. If you haven't played any Division betas, that's a huge amount of new content. Check out the open beta trailer below.

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The beta will also offer endgame content, so you'll be able to fight against some of the members and weaponry of the Black Tusk organization. The beta begins in just a few days on March 1 and runs through March 4.

The Division 2 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15.

Categories: Games

Inside The Development History Of The Outer Worlds

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 18:00

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We've been rolling out exclusive features highlighting The Outer Worlds all month, and with the video above we're diving in deep on the game's development. While visiting Obsidian Entertainment, we spoke with The Outer Worlds' co-directors Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky about how the project started and what it's like on the inside developing a focused, reactive RPG. Cain and Boyarsky started their partnership with the creation of the first Fallout at Interplay alongside Obsidian co-founders Feargus Urquhart and Chris Jones. After a long journey through the game industry, which brought them both to working on games like Vampire: The Masquerade, Boyarsky was lured away from Blizzard and his work on the Diablo series to rejoin Cain on the creation of this "space RPG". Learn the full story by watching the video above, and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Click on the banner below to enter our updating hub of exclusive features on The Outer Worlds.

Categories: Games

How The West Was Won

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 15:00

Publisher: Wandering Wizard Developer: Virtual Basement Release: March 12, 2019 Platform: PC

Survival games run the gamut of different kinds of environments and settings. Just perusing the genre brings games based in post-apocalyptic worlds, uncharted islands with dinosaurs, dangerous waters, zombie lands, forests, the list goes on and on. There’s been shockingly few survival games that are set in times and places where people actually had to genuinely try to forage and, you know, survive, which seems like it would be ripe for a survival game. That’s one thing that Outlaws of the Old West is seeking to remedy.

The new old west survival game from Virtual Basement, one of the developers behind the Ark survival games, now stretching their wings into a brand new game. Outlaws of the Old West brings the survival genre to the days of cowboys and deserts to create an entirely player-driven game. Like most survival games, every aspect of living and dying depends solely on you, and you can’t just expect to make it through the night passively.

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Everything must be built from its most fundamental levels, from hats to saddles to windmills and wagons. The very few NPCs in the game are there to help you with its building blocks by exchanging your found resources for money, or vise-versa, and everything else in the game is player-driven. This means that, if you want to survive, you probably want to make friends with the server’s 150 players and build a town or settlement.

With few NPCs, however, there will also be very few storylines in Outlaws. There’s no real quests to speak of, no scripted missions to chase down a gang leader, no pre-recorded sheriff who seeks your aid when you roll into town. Your most harrowing adventures will come at the hands of animal life or rival players, not from a grand story taking place in the old west.

The game is being made with PVP in mind, but Virtual Basement wants Early Access players to understand that it is extremely malleable. If they don’t like the direction the game is going, Virtual Basement wants players to help them change it. While they didn’t indicate they would go far as compromising the old west part of the game immediately, basically everything is on the table eventually.

Outlaws of the Old West is hitting early access on Steam on March 12. The game’s retail release, which is quite a long ways off, will be on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

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