Games

Fortnite Season 8 Teases Pirate Theme

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 17:55
Publisher: Epic Games Developer: Epic Games Release: July 25, 2017 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS

After Epic kicked up the Fortnite game by promising different non-pay ways to get the battle pass, the Fortnite developer is now moving into the game's eighth competitive season. We got our first tease of the new season today and it seems to be pirate-themed.

'X' Marks The Spot
Treasure abound
Loot that has been lost
Can always be found.
4 days to Season 8. pic.twitter.com/1U8n7x4pQQ

— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) February 24, 2019

It seems as part of the pirate theme is hidden treasure, with X specifically marking the spot. Considering Epic's penchant for hiding hints about major events and world changes within the actual game, there may actually be a hidden treasure players have to find.

Previous season themes have included things like superheroes, a snowy fantasy Christmas, darkness rising, and more. What I'd really like to see as part of a pirate theme is ship battling, but that's probably a bridge way too far for an existing battle royale game, but imagine how much fun building a boat out of nowhere would be.

Categories: Games

BioWare Lays Out 90 Day Roadmap For Anthem

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 23:25
Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

BioWare has put out their 90-day plan for Anthem, showing where they hope and expect to take the loot-shooter game as a service in the next three months now that it's finally released. The studio outlines everything from fixes and optimizations to new quests and items for you to grab.

In a blog aptly titled "Our Live Service Begins," Anthem head of live service Chad Robertson walks players through what they can expect from the near future of BioWare's newest game.

"I look at today from two perspectives," Robertson writes. "As a gamer, I’m excited by what we’ve created with Anthem and the promise it carries for a long future behind the game’s lush world, immersive lore, rich characters, and core gameplay. As a developer, I know we’ve worked hard to strike a balance of engaging BioWare story combined with fun action-gameplay and multi-player progression; I also know how much more we want to bring to the game."

Roberston emphasizes that launch day is just the beginning for the game and they plan to keep plugging away at it to realize their vision for the game over time. You can check out their 90-day roadmap right here.

While Anthem is available today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, we're still working on the review for the title. You can read about why right here.

Categories: Games

Time-Limited Dead Or Alive 6 Demo Out Now On PS4 And Xbox One

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 23:00
Publisher: Koei Tecmo Developer: Team Ninja Release: March 1, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Dead or Alive 6 was supposed to be out by now, but a delay into March means fans aren't playing through the newest Team Ninja fighting game when they initially expected to. Fret not, because there is a salve for those worries in the form of the Dead or Alive 6 Deluxe demo.

You'll need a PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live Gold subscription, but you can download a demo now that will expire in two days on February 24. The demo gives you 24 characters to play around with and gives you a taste of the full game's story mode ahead of its official release.

The biggest draw for most players will be the ranked matches you can participate in, though Koei Tecmo warns that these online features will not be as boisterous as they will in the full game. You can also just go to the lab in any of the game's various training modes for now, too.

Dead or Alive 6 releases on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC on March 1. At the moment, only Xbox One X has been announced to support native 4K and HDR, though it is likely PC will at least support 4K.

Categories: Games

The Occupation's New Gameplay Trailer Puts Players On A Deadline

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 17:32
Publisher: Sold Out, Humble Bundle Developer: White Paper Games Release: March 5, 2019 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Click here to watch embedded media

The Occupation is an upcoming first-person thriller that puts players in the role of an investigative journalist in 1987 who has only four hours to crack the case of a terrorist bombing. The latest gameplay trailers walks players through a portion of the game, illustrating the branching paths players can take to gather leads for their exposé.

Time is your greatest threat in The Occupation – one hour in real-time equates to one in-game hour (which, in a way, reflects the nature of being a journalist under a deadline). In the new gameplay trailer, the protagonist learns that the head of the local news organization might be printing lies about the terrorist bombing, and proof might exist on a floppy disk that's lost somewhere in the office.

The game evokes Dishonored in the way that players can approach a task in a variety of ways. The floppy disk might be hidden in a specific office, and players can sneak in through certain vents, spy from the shadows as an NPC puts in the office passcode, or locate a fuse box in order to shut down the security system completely.

Developer White Paper Games says players need to pay close attention to their surroundings. Later in the trailer, after players have obtained the floppy disk, the player walks through a security checkpoint and the magnetic sensors damage the drive. Apparently, this can be avoided by going another route, but now players have to use precious time finding a place to repair the drive.

The Occupation is out March 5 for Xbox One, PS4, and PC. It made our list of our 20 Most Anticipated Indie Games of 2019.

Categories: Games

Left Alive Gets An Extended Gameplay Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 17:20

Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: March 5, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

Left Alive is Square Enix's latest title from the Front Mission franchise. At last year's TGS, we learned about its three playable protagonists and their overarching motivations. Today, Square released extended footage of Left Alive's core gameplay as it pertains to each of these characters. 

Click here to watch embedded media

During stealth segments, gadgets like enemy-sensor projectiles, smoke grenades, and flash bangs let players assess engagements or evade them outright. Additionally, the trailer is chock-full of cutscenes. Basic dialogue options are available in these moments to maintain immersion. However, Square left the most anticipated gameplay for last: mech combat. These golem-sized machines come equipped with fully-automatic weapons as well as grenade and missile launchers. A pin ability was used several times to disorient enemy mechs and traverse the linear stretches of metropolitan areas swiftly. 

Left Alive releases for PlayStation 4 and PC on March 5. If the game's Metal Gear Solid-like mechanics excite you, read up on the extra content and collectibles that come with the Day One and Mech Edition versions of the upcoming title

Categories: Games

For Some Reason, There Is A PUBG x Tera Crossover Event

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/22/2019 - 02:35
Publisher: En Masse Entertainment Developer: Bluehole Studios Release: May 1, 2012 Rating: Mature Platform: PC

Crossovers can be really fun and it's always cool to see two incredibly disparate things come together to watch their interactions. Then sometimes crossovers happen that could be amazing in a milkshake-and-fries sort of way but leave you scratching your head the entire time. It's hard to say if the upcoming crossover of MMORPG Tera and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds will be surprisingly amazing, but it is certainly head-scratching.

Check out a trailer of the crossover below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The crossover brings PUBG cosmetics to Tera, rather than bringing Tera's fantasy world to PUBG, which is honestly a way more fascinating an interesting dynamic I hope they take. 

The event will be running from March 5 through April 5, so you can hop into Tera and use that game's in-game PUBG shop so they can pick up the various cosmetics. I would also like the PUBG-Man suit and helmet in Mario Odyssey, please.

Categories: Games

End Of Campaign Season

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 19:00
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Massive Release: March 15, 2019 Rating: Not rated Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

When the original Division released in 2016, players gave feedback to Ubisoft indicating that the endgame was a little light and there wasn't a whole lot to do after finishing the main campaign. Over time, Ubisoft remedied this with free updates and DLC, but they're understandably wary that people will think The Division 2 will have the same kind of ramp up.

To make sure people know the sequel has a strong endgame from the start, Ubisoft has released a trailer talking about endgame activities, and specifically the fight against the paramilitary terrorists the Black Tusk. Check it out below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The Black Tusk come at the end of the main campaign to give you the true test of everything you have learned and gained so far when the player has hit level 30. They can take back areas you've already taken over and have robot dogs to both track and attack you.

The Division 2's open beta is landing in just a week and some change on March 1 through March 4 on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Everything We Know About Companions In The Outer Worlds

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/21/2019 - 18:00

You may be exploring a faraway star system in The Outer Worlds, but that doesn’t mean you need to be lonely. You encounter other people during your travels who are willing to fight by your side and join your crew, and who enrich your experience by offering different perspectives. We talked to a team of writers at Obsidian to get specific info on three of the companions you can recruit, as well as various other tidbits about the studio’s general approach to these characters.

Generally, one writer handles all of a companion’s interactions
If you take a liking to one particular companion, odds are good that you have a single member of Obsidian’s writing team to thank. Though parts of the process are certainly collaborative, all of a character’s interactions are usually guided by one person for consistency’s sake. “It’s a lot easier to keep any character in the hands of one person, because everyone’s going to put their own spin on a character to some extent,” says senior narrative designer Carrie Patel. “The more a character changes hands, the more you’re getting multiple different executions, multiple different flavors.”

The crew dynamic is important
While the team wants the companions to be interesting as individuals, they also need to cohere as a group. They banter as you walk around, interact with each other on your ship, and bring different capabilities into combat. “We knew we needed companions with sort of that Firefly flavor,” says narrative designer Nitai Poddar. “We wanted them to be a band of, not quite misfits, but different personalities coming together on the same ship. And we knew we wanted a fairly confined number of them so that each would be individual.”

Profile: Ellie
“She a professional sort of pirate, but she also has a very mercenary outlook toward a lot of things,” says senior narrative designer Carrie Patel. “She’s fairly pragmatic, pretty easygoing. I think it’s important, when you’re talking about companions, to have a spread of dispositions. She’s definitely not someone who’s going to get too mad at your for being the bad guy. And she has a few things about her past that she’s tried to get away from.”

You encounter them early
Opportunities to recruit companions are front-loaded, to avoid the sense of under-developed characters joining late in the journey. “You encounter all the companions in the first third of the game, because it’s no fun getting a companion in the last hour,” co-director Tim Cain told us at the game’s unveiling.

They help in battle and beyond
You can bring two companions along with you when you leave your ship. In addition to their unique special attacks, you can also give them weapons to steer their approach to combat. You also benefit from a portion of each companion's key skill scores; if a lock is too difficult for you to pick alone, bringing the right companion might give you the boost you need. If you need an even bigger boost, you can take certain perks to increase how much you benefit from your allies' aptitudes. "We realized that companions could be used a lot more tactically," Cain says. "We wanted to put in skills that control that."

You can do quests for them
Every companion has something you can help them with. While these tasks varying in length (don’t expect them all to be multi-stage, multi-hour affairs), they give players a chance to get to know the companions better – and get rewards to improve their performance or customize their quarters. “Some problem that is essential to their character that is explored in that particular quest,” Poddar says. “And that’s also something we like to ask ourselves when we start fleshing out these companions: What is their motivation? What is driving them?”

Profile: Parvati
“Parvati is a very sweet, naïve person,” says senior narrative designer Megan Starks. “She doesn’t really fit in with the community, because it’s all about conforming and putting the corporations first. As a mechanic, she likes to give personalities to the machines she’s working on and creating, and that doesn’t fit in very well with the society. So I think it’s nice to have two companions who are coming at it from opposite sides. Parvati saying ‘Oh, we should help these people,’ and then Ellie is a lot more like, ‘Well, me and mine.’”

Companions are cool, but not required
The Outer Worlds puts a big focus on player choice, and that extends to deciding whether or not you even recruit companions when you have the chance. Would you prefer to play as a loner? You can do that and finish the game, though you might miss some neat stuff. “With a game like ours, there’s a balance you have to strike, because you don’t have to recruit the companions,” Patel says. “You can have a full, complete experience of our game – minus the companion content – if you never recruit them. But at the same time, we do want them to feel very involved for players who choose to bring them along. While we have to be careful not to make them mandatory, we also look for ways to bring them in.”

Companions aren’t necessarily forever
When companions join, they aren’t swearing a fealty oath for eternity. If you do things they don’t like, they aren’t obligated to stick around. “We do have ways that a companion can choose to leave you,” says senior narrative designer Megan Starks.

Profile: Felix
“Felix is a rebel without a cause,” says narrative designer Nitai Poddar. “According to some companions, he would also be a rebel without a clue. He’s a young, impetuous, brash kid who really loves fighting ‘the man.’ He doesn’t have a stable political philosophy beyond ‘smash the system,’ and he tends to get in trouble everywhere he goes. When the player finds him, he got into an altercation with his foreman, which may have involved his foreman making fun of his favorite tossball team – and that’s just not acceptable. Despite his problem with authority, Felix will latch onto the player very quickly.”

They aren’t governed by a morale system
If a companion does leave, it won’t be because of a gradual affinity erosion, or because you don’t give them enough random gifts. The game doesn’t quantify your relationships in that sense. Instead, their commitment to you is thrown into jeopardy depending on certain major choices you make. Plus, you will understand the characters’ personalities well enough to know their positions, so it won’t be a big surprise if they get upset when or if you cross the line. “Even if you lose a points-based morale system, I think you gain something by hand-crafting specific moments where a companion is like, “Why would you do this? You’re completely out of your mind!’” Poddar says. “And that also gives the player an interesting opportunity to say, ‘You might be thinking that, but here are my reasons why…’ and sometimes we can attach that to a persuade or leadership check, and that helps the player feel more rewarded.”

They are different, but unified
Companions have different (and sometimes directly oppositional) personalities and viewpoints, but they do have something that brings them together: You. “Them wanting to go with you unites them more than anything,” Starks says. “Because they still argue with each other, and it takes a while for them to get comfortable.” But they are also tied together by more than just physical proximity; in a world that values corporate loyalty and assimilation, they all have trouble finding what they want. “I think they all end up where they are, and they all end up willing to step back from where they start out, because they look at their situation and they realize something isn’t right or satisfying for them,” Patel says.

For more on The Outer Worlds, click on the banner below for more exclusive features during our month of coverage.

Categories: Games

Anthem Review - No I In Team

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 23:51

Launching upward off a jungle floor and bursting through a thick canopy of trees, bobbing and weaving your way under a waterfall as you take in the lush landscape below you, is one of the highlights of Anthem. Flight, in these moments, is freeing, serene and exhilarating all at once. But you will eventually have to come back down to earth. When you don't have a means to cool down in the air, you have to interrupt your flight to cool off on the ground--or else your suit will overheat and send you careening downward much more violently. This is what Anthem is like as a whole: a game where promising moments are bookended by frustration, where good ideas are undone before they can be fully realized.

It can take a while to warm up to Anthem in the first place. In its intro mission, you are a rookie Freelancer--a hero type who battles threats to humanity in mechanized combat suits called javelins. But that brief mission ends in failure, and after a two-year time skip, you're now an experienced Freelancer. As a result, everyone talks to you as if you know everything about the world, even though much of the game's space-fantasy jargon is explained only in codex entries. "Shapers," "Arcanists," to "silence" this or that "relic"--all the dialogue is structured as if you already know what all these things are, so there's not even an element of mystery to it. It's just hard to follow.

The story and overall worldbuilding do a great disservice to the characters, which have elements of what you might think of as BioWare's pedigree. The main cast is well-acted and genuine, with complicated emotions and motivations that might have been interesting had they been given time to grow. Two characters are mad at you for the events of the tutorial, even though it's never quite clear why; that bad blood spills over into your relationship with your current partner-in-Freelancing, Owen, and there's enough believable awkwardness there to make you almost feel bad for him. But because the narrative is so poorly set up, the drama feels unearned, the "emotional" reveals robbed of their impact, and any connection you might have had to the characters just out of reach.

Exacerbating all of this is Anthem's loot game core, which is simple on paper. After every mission, you return to your base of operations, Fort Tarsis, to talk to people, get new missions, and tinker with your javelins using the loot you picked up from the previous mission. Missions themselves almost universally involve some quick narrative setup followed by flying, completing routine tasks, and plenty of combat (with more brief plot-related stuff thrown in via radio chatter).

But this general structure doesn't work well in practice. You're told up front that playing Anthem with others is the best way to play and that you'll get better rewards in a group, but this means asking your friends to be quiet every few minutes so you can hear a bit of dialogue or to wait patiently while you tweak your loadout. Playing solo is better if you want to take your time and talk to different characters, but doing so can make missions more difficult or tedious. Matchmaking with random people is the best option, since you'll have people with you for grindy parts but will leave you alone for the story--but even then, it's easy to lose track of what's going on, especially if someone in your team is ahead of you and triggering dialogue early.

And no matter what, you'll have to return to Fort Tarsis after each expedition, which makes for choppy pacing in both the story and the gameplay. There's no way to change your loadout on the go and no way to just continue on to another mission right away, and there are currently a number of loading screens in between leaving and returning to Fort Tarsis. It's hard to really get into any kind of flow.

When I finally took the time to talk to NPCs in between missions, I found endearing characters and brief but interesting bits of story spread between them. There's one girl who just loves animals no matter how dangerous, and she'll happily tell you all about them; there's the oldest man in Fort Tarsis, who admits to doing some shady things to earn that title; there's an old woman whose daughter has been missing for years and might just need some kindness. Though it took some patience to do it, I was glad I stopped to listen to them.

Throughout all of this, combat is the main thing keeping Anthem afloat. There are four types of javelins--Ranger, Storm, Interceptor, and Colossus--that are essentially a soldier, mage, assassin, and tank, respectively. Each plays differently, with a different pool of abilities, and you aren't locked into the one you start with; you unlock them as you level up. That, combined with a handful of new weapons and abilities after each mission, means that you're almost always experimenting with new loadouts and playstyles.

I initially picked the Ranger, thinking it would be a good all-around class while I was learning the basics. But the guns alone aren't enough to make Anthem combat's exciting; I found a lot of the weapons, especially shotguns, to feel ineffectual. The Ranger's abilities are pretty straightforward, too--you get grenades and missiles and the like--which left me largely unimpressed with combat in the beginning. But then I unlocked the speedy Interceptor, whose gymnastic jumps and swift melee strikes are incredibly satisfying, and I started to get excited about trying new things in each successive mission.

The Storm javelin became my favorite, though, because it both has interesting elemental abilities and can hover for minutes, not seconds, at a time before overheating. Its assortment of powers lends itself well to getting combos, which result in a satisfying explosion of sorts and a more chaotic battlefield. But more importantly, it's the only javelin that doesn't require frequent stops on the ground, and as a result it provides the most dynamic combat--you can go from shooting basic enemies in a hallway to floating above the battlefield, raining down lightning to wipe out five at once while scoping out the area for your team.

Generally, all of the javelins can easily jet out of sticky situations in a pinch or briefly hover in the air to gain the upper hand, and combining movement with your abilities is consistently a good time. But when fighting titans and certain other bosses, there's a catch; a lot of them use fire attacks that overheat your suit and ground you instantly, robbing the fight of much of what makes combat interesting. You can still use your abilities, but they don't do much in these fights, and they fall flat compared to the often bombastic impact they have on regular enemies. This extends to the final fight, which is especially underwhelming.

The endgame thus far is to complete high numbers of the various mission types, which amounts to repeating many individual missions. The draw is better gear, but without compelling high-level fights, you don't have anything to build toward with all that grinding. A post-credits cutscene has the most intriguing plot point in the game and serves as a preview of what might come later on--but right now it's just a promise, rather than a true incentive to keep going.

It's worth noting that the early access period saw a number of technical hiccups. Dropped audio, server issues, long loading times, missions not registering as complete--I didn't have a single session without some sort of problem. A day-one patch aims to iron much of this out, but overall, the poor structure and pacing are a more frustrating problem.

Anthem has good ideas, but it struggles significantly with the execution. It's a co-op game that works best with no one talking; it buries genuinely interesting character moments and puts its most incomprehensible story bits at the forefront; its combat is exciting until you get to the boss fights and find your wings have been clipped. Even the simple, exhilarating act of flying is frequently interrupted by the limitations of your javelin, and you never quite shake that feeling of disappointment--of knowing, throughout the good parts of Anthem, that you'll inevitably come crashing back down.

Categories: Games

An Energized Halo-Portal Hybrid

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 19:45

Publisher: 1047 Games Developer: 1047 Games Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PC

1047 Games’ first project, Splitgate: Arena Warfare, is a first-person shooter that infuses the much-adored combat of Halo 2 and 3 with the puzzle-solving mechanics of Portal 2. It offers an adequate repertoire of firearms, including the beloved assault rifle and high-powered railguns, four medium-scale maps tuned for verticality and clever flanks, avatar customization, and myriads of battle modes (including fan favorites like deathmatch, free-for-all, and Team SWAT). The game retains the meatier health pools of its Halo predecessors and the gunplay – especially because of the inclusion of Halo-modeled weapons like the burst-fire battle rifle and deceptively strong pistol – feels nostalgically familiar.

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Combat objectives remain simplistic: find the target and eliminate it. The implementation of portals, however, provides advantageous sight-lines and skillful maneuverability. At times, they can be a lethal weakness as enemies access them indiscriminately. I constantly found myself at the mercy of cunning players who used their portals to engage from multiple angles. With one button press, you can materialize a set of portals, at any given moment, on blue-webbed surfaces (see image below). As you might expect, portals are linked doorways between locations. There is no cooldown or reload time for the ability, although the split-second nature of firefights makes accurate portal-placement difficult. This is especially evident during daring escapes. Additionally, all players are equipped with a portal-negation grenade. While the projectile does no bodily harm, it can prevent opponents from using portals for quick getaways. 

I found portals to be a forgettable mechanic in my first few matches. It hardly felt significant in vanquishing unsuspecting foes. With decent accuracy, most one-on-ones were winnable. But when groups of enemies entered the fray, survival became increasingly difficult. Once I started placing portals in the environment, my death-rate instantly plummeted. I was able to maintain killstreaks from safe distances and instead of haphazardly entering portals, I used them as windows to shoot enemies through. In a more communicative squad, portal gameplay transforms the battlefield. 

“What we’ve seen from teams is that they’ve created different roles,” says 1047 Games’ CEO, Ian Proulx. “Certain players are constantly moving – ‘portaling’ all over the place so that you can’t keep track of them – and sticking together to outflank enemies. Typically, one other player posts up in a safe place to call out enemy movements.”

Strategic strafing and sensitivity modifications have the potential to lead to victory but, because portals replace the perks and kit-specific powers prevalent to other contemporary shooters, Splitgate players are forced to hone their weapon precision and memorize map geography. This will please shooter purists, but has the potential to alienate casual gamers. Proulx revealed a simple blueprint for expansive playlists that aim to separate player cliques. 

“For ranked, we’re bringing back the Halo 2 1-50 ranking system; based purely on wins and losses rather than kill-death ratios,” he says. “We’ll also have a casual mode and a custom games mode including modifiers like low gravity, unlimited jetpack fuel, headshots only, etc.” 

Additionally, for those looking to learn the ropes in a less demanding environment, private matches are available with options to play alongside and against bots. The A.I. is no pushover; enemy bots activate their own portals to hastily circumnavigate arenas. Moreover, with programmed auto-aim, players have a limited window to defeat their robotic combatants. As of right now, bots feel too powerful for newcomers, but 1047 Games has promised the implementation of difficulty settings.

Click here to watch embedded media

Headshots, of course, are the fastest way to vanquish opponents, and each map offers a plethora of vantage points to make those bullets or plasma rounds easier to land. “Olympus,” a sporty arena touting neon-blue advertisements and floating platforms, provides many opportunities for sneaky portal routes. If players are truly clever, they can create optimal sight-lines on both ends of the map. “Silo,” with its iridescent lights and chillwave music, is club-themed. Its middle sector is a popular battleground, but long corridors make the trip to the center susceptible to ambushes. On “Helix,” close-combat weapons like shotguns and, surprisingly, rocket launchers, reign supreme. Here, tight hallways prevent quick portal escapes, so gun accuracy is key. Finally, the galactic “Outpost” houses an overarching sniper tower, only accessible by portals, well-timed jumps, and player-momentum. 

Of note is Splitgate’s pro-gamer-majority community. Play-test suggestions have been incorporated into routine updates, meaning that 1047 Games has established itself as a small developer that listens. When considering a wider competitive scene for Splitgate, however, the developers opted to focus on optimizing the game itself rather than rushing to rally an esport. 

Finally, we talked to Proulx about the game’s longevity. Incoming features include basic portal tutorials, large-scale battles and larger team rosters, more maps, and in-game “MVP” announcements (that could provide benefits for up-and-coming streamers), among other content plans. 

“We want something that’s easy to learn and difficult to master,” says Proulx. “Anyone can pick up the game: it has forgiving shooting mechanics and one incredibly complicated mechanic [portals] that takes hundreds of hours to master. But you can still, just from the shooting alone, find a moderate amount of success and have fun with the game. If you really want to reach that high tier, you’re going to have to grind.” 

All you FPS enthusiasts who yearn for a team-based competitive experience devoid of the ability-clutter in modern shooters, Splitgate: Arena Warfare is for you! A specific date has not been confirmed, but the game is likely to release this Summer in the $20-$30 price range. It will be available on PC but may find a home on consoles soon.  

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For a blast to the past, watch our replay of Halo: Combat Evolved or our Portal (2007) discussion on The Game Informer Show. If Splitgate: Arena Warfare piqued your interest, check out an extensive list of Our Most Anticipated Shooters Of 2019.

Categories: Games

Futuristic Indie Black Future's Console Port Is Coming To Switch First

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 19:40
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment Developer: Good Shepherd Entertainment Release: 2019 Platform: Switch, PC

Black Future '88, an upcoming indie shooter action game, is officially coming to Nintendo Switch as its first console port. The Switch version, in addition to being portable, also has co-op using the game's two joycons, so you can break out with some future-punk synth with a friend whenever you want.

Check out the Switch trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

The indie shooter is coming to PC and Switch so far, but other consoles will come later down the line this year. As a roguelite, it boasts five unique characters and a different map setup each time. Check out the game when it releases later this year in 2019.

Categories: Games

Next Red Dead Redemption Online Update Adds An Armor Event, Fishing Challenges, And More

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 19:10
Publisher: Rockstar Games Developer: Rockstar Games Release: October 26, 2018 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

A new update is coming to Red Dead Redemption Online next week featuring an event based on the armor quest in the game, competitive fishing, new weapons, cosmetics, and of course some good old fashioned Bonus XP.

The first new addition, Fool's Gold, takes the armor story quest from Red Dead Online and makes it into a multiplayer free roam event. Players fight to control a set of golden armor, then don the armor themselves to see how long they can hold onto it. It's basically a king of the hill mode but you're Solaire.

There's also now fishing challenges. Once you opt in, the game supplies you with everything you need to go get some fish except for the necessary human skills to go do it. Prove your mettle by catching the biggest fish the old west has ever seen.

As part of the PS4's content timed exclusivity, if you're playing Red Dead Online on the Sony system, this update will bring you open target races, where you compete to take out a target on horseback, and a new melee weapon called the Jawbone knife. Usually exclusivity windows are only about 30 days.

The update launches on February 26, but you don't need to wait for it to launch to be productive. Until the update lands, all players get 20 percent bonus XP before it launches, so you can be nice and prepared to be the armor king the world needs right now. You can find a full list of what the update contains right here.

Categories: Games

Tetris 99 Review - I've Got 99 Problems And You're One Of Them

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 18:47

What can be said about Tetris that hasn't been said already? Well, that depends on the type of Tetris game in question. Tetris Effect changed the conversation around the classic puzzle concept last year by directly tying your actions and the flow of stages to the fluctuating rhythm of an eclectic (and all-around amazing) soundtrack. In the case of the Switch-exclusive Tetris 99, the moment-to-moment gameplay is more immediately recognizable, but a new twist helps it stand out from Tetris games of old: a 99-player last-player-standing competition. It's chaotic, which can work in your favor or lead to moments that feel practically unfair. Thankfully, with the solid gameplay at its foundation and a quick means of getting into a new match, no game of Tetris 99 feels like time wasted.

The competitive aspect of Tetris 99 is something most people are familiar with, albeit based on less ambitious setups. Clear some lines, and a batch of junk lines will appear in a queue next to your opponent's puzzle space. If they can clear lines of their own, the junk-in-waiting can be negated; if no new lines are completed, the weight of your success will bear down on their board and reduce the free space for mid-drop tetrimino trickery.

This straightforward setup has, in the past, been utilized in two-player scenarios. With 99 players competing at once here, all visible next to your puzzle space with lines appearing and disappearing between players every few seconds, your early matches will feel a little confusing.

Somewhat frustratingly, Tetris 99 offers no explanation of its inner workings nor the function of various attack modes you can pick from during a match. You can get really far by simply playing Tetris the way you always have, but an uninformed player will always be at a severe disadvantage. Even though all the info is a quick internet search away, it's disappointing that Tetris 99 is bereft of these details or explanations.

So here it goes: You can influence automated attack patterns using the right analog stick, determining whether your offensive lines get sent to randoms, players attacking you, people near death, or players who have done the most killing in the match. Playing handheld, you can also use the Switch touchscreen to target players manually. Less intuitively, when playing docked, the left analog stick can be used to cycle through the phalanx of players on either side of your screen.

The control given to you by most of these options can be used in strategic ways, but none more so than by attacking killers, AKA the "badges" option. It's named thusly because killing a player nets you a portion of a badge and, better yet, any belonging to the defeated player. These badges enhance the output of your attacks, throwing more lines per combo and making the final moments of a match a living hell for your opponents. With the increasing speed of a Tetris 99 match, manually picking your targets based on small icons is an expert's game, so these automated attack profiles are ultimately to your benefit, even if they aren't explained well and could potentially be a source of confusion for new players.

The beauty of Tetris 99 is the tried-and-true game at the center of it all. Tetris is a god among games, and competitive Tetris only enhances the rising tension of a match. Tetris 99, being a game with so many competitors and a default "random" attack pattern, means that you will inevitably enter matches where the odds feel stacked against you from the beginning with no rhyme or reason. And when that happens, you may find that you have no recourse with a screen full of junk lines.

Even though each loss isn't always a lesson learned, it's also just a small roadblock, as a new match is generally seconds, rather than minutes, away. Simply hold down a button to start a search for new players, and watch the screen fill up with opponents in the blink of an eye. There may come a time when the countdown clock expires and matches have less than 99 players, but at launch, that is a very rare occurrence.

Tetris 99 may not be a proper battle royale game, but it taps into the same emotional well, where a large number of players vying for supremacy creates an ever-present intensity that's difficult to shake. Add that layer to a game that's plenty capable of instilling tension on its own, and you've got a riveting experience that even at its worst is still a game very much worth playing. There's obvious room for improvement, but that's the last thing on your mind when the pieces start falling and the players start dropping.

Categories: Games

The Story Behind The Outer Worlds’ Amazing Art

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 18:00

The Outer Worlds has a unique visual style that merges classic sci-fi inspirations with the team’s own vision. As players pursue their space adventures, they are treated to a variety of people, places, and creatures that evoke pulpy serials, comic books, Westerns, and more. This look and feel is an integral part of the experience, and we talked to The Outer Worlds' art lead Daniel Alpert and co-director Leonard Boyarsky about the art team’s goals and process when creating the game’s stylish appearance.

Art created for the cover of Game Informer issue 311

Alpert: We really wanted to capture what it was like to be on a frontier planet. That’s what it is: Going out to the outer reaches of space, colonizing new lands, and when you get there, it’s all wilderness. Just like it would be back in the Wild West times. But we also wanted to not just invoke that frontier landscape, but also make sure we get some of that science-fiction vibe. That’s why we wanted to hit it with the cryosuit, which is a huge juxtaposition. You take out the cryosuit, you take out the fancy city, it just looks likes a frontier landscape. You add those elements in, it becomes otherworldly.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                             Loading screens that reflect different player actions

Alpert: These are some of my favorite pieces in the game. As you play through, you affect story events. You get these loading screens that are like newspaper-printed images of things the player has done. In a single playthrough, you can’t get all the newspaper images.

Boyarsky: We knew we wanted to do something where you were seeing images or propaganda based on what you had done, but it came together when we decided that it was told from the Board’s [the corporate ruling body in The Outer Worlds] point of view. These are from Board-operated newspapers and periodicals. If you’re doing stuff the Board approves of, you’re a hero. If you’re doing anti-Board stuff, it’s an “evil, mysterious stranger plotting against us” kind of thing.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                             Uniforms for different factions and companies

Alpert: This [first image] is one of our outfits. It’s a tactical officer for the corporate military. It has a lot of heavy, industrial feeling. It’s got the pipes, the controllers. But when you step back, you can see a lot of influences that we pull from that robber-baron time. When you examine a lot of our armors, you’ll see those motifs go on and on.

Boyarsky: Without being too over-the-top obvious or too anachronistic, we really wanted these to feel like they were soldered out of big industrial metal pieces. We wanted the game to have a distinct look and be recognizable stylistically.

Alpert: Every corporation will have a very recognizable color scheme, and you can pick them out in a crowd. You see those same colors throughout the game. Like, you go into a Spacer’s Choice town, and you know it’s a Spacer’s Choice town. You go into an Auntie Cleo town, and you know it’s an Auntie Cleo town.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version

 

                                                                                                             Movie posters for films made in Byzantium

Alpert: We have these two planets – one is Terra, one is Monarch – and the people of Terra don’t like the people of Monarch. They’re making propaganda films to sell to the people why it’s bad there. We even have, in Byzantium, a film studio where they’re filming some of this stuff, alluding to the fact that they’re constantly churning out propaganda.

[Titus Andronicus] has some of the goriest Shakespearean stuff ever. There’s a lot of vile stuff in there; if people actually know the story and want to take a deeper dive into this image, they can figure out some of the things we put in there.

This piece captures the fusion of sci-fi and Wild-West aesthetics

Boyarsky: Dieselpunk is very 1930s, and I was like “That’s unfortunate, because that almost feels like what we want.” I just threw out “Dieselpunk Deadwood,” and then we were like, “That’s what we have to somehow encapsulate.” … This is where we, as far as the environment goes, really hit where we wanted to go with the project.

Alpert: I think it was this piece that, once the team starting seeing it, it clicked for a lot of people.

 

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Categories: Games

10 Reasons Why This Spinoff Could Be What The Series Needs

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 14:00

Publisher: D3 Publisher Developer: Yuke's Release: April 11, 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4

It’s not a bold statement to say that the Earth Defense Force isn’t for everyone. For those of us who love the series, it’s been a reliably fun way to blow off steam at the end of the day while mindlessly grinding levels and cracking open thousands of giant bugs and robots. As for everyone else, it’s easy to see why they’ve never gotten hooked. It’s admittedly clunky, with low production values and an overall aura that might get you thinking, “Are they doing all of this on purpose?” 

Last year’s EDF 5 made some strides toward addressing some of those criticisms, but plenty of its legacy issues stayed along for the ride. Now, a few months later, EDF: Iron Rain is getting close to its simultaneous worldwide release. The spinoff has been designed with Western audiences in mind, but it has plenty for longtime fans to appreciate as well. Here are some of the highlights, based on our extensive hands-on time with the game as well as conversations with series producer Nobuyuki Okajima.

1. A Different Dev Team

Sandlot created the series, and it’s the studio behind the vast majority of its releases. Iron Rain is being developed by Yuke’s, which is perhaps best known in the West for its 2K WWE games. Okajima says it wasn’t just a logistical decision. “With EDF: Iron Rain, we just wanted to come up with a different outline, and different supplemental elements around that core game design. We wanted to take it to the next level for overseas fans.” Yuke’s definitely has its own take on the series, and it wasn’t afraid to try out new things, either, as I’ll be getting into in a bit. Okajima made it clear during our conversation that this appeal to new audiences shouldn’t worry fans who like what Sandlot has been doing. “I think for the future, there will be two types of EDF games: One like this, and one like the traditional games.”

2. A Slightly Different Tone

EDF’s B-movie vibe is integral to the series, and some of Iron Rain’s prerelease coverage has focused on a more serious, grittier tone. While it certainly does take itself more seriously, it’s by no means a “serious” game. There’s an attempt to humanize some of the members of your squad, with back-and-forth dialog that’s playful and right at home with the game’s action-movie vibe. From what I’ve played, it doesn’t veer completely into crazytown, such as the back half of EDF 5’s oddball exploration of religion and the nature of god. Perhaps that’s because the game is set several decades after the last game, and the people are now even more accustomed to fighting giant bugs and robots. One thing I liked a lot is that the soldiers refer to giant ants as, well, giant ants, instead of calling them ravagers, invaders, or any number of other terms the previous games have leaned on. I mean, they’re unmistakably giant ants.

3. It’s The Same Action, At Its Core

Backing up for a second, what is EDF? How would you describe the series to someone who hadn’t ever heard of it before? I posed that question to Okajima. “You save the world. You’re a human fighting against big creatures. The enemies are huge and numerous. You’re overwhelmed in every stage and location, but as you play through you always find a solution – and hope.” That core is completely intact in Iron Rain. Yuke’s just has its own interpretation of it, is all.

You’re still amassing a huge arsenal of weapons and finding the best ones for every situation. Grinding for better equipment is still important. Bugs still blow up in satisfying ways. It just feels slightly different, is all. For example, the giant ants don’t seem as fixated on charging at the player and biting them as they were in EDF 5. They’ll still do it, but not to the same, aggravating degree. The sprint from EDF 5 returns, along with a host of other mobility improvements across the game’s four classes. In short, it definitely feels different, but it’s not a startling change from what came before.

4. Upgrades Have Been Overhauled

OK, I may have just fibbed a little there. While the basic combat may not be a startling change over what came before, Iron Rain’s weapons loop absolutely is. In the past enemies occasionally dropped gear for players, in the form of weapons crates, armor upgrades, and health-restoring items. It was a little shocking to finish a level without seeing a single green crate. After all, getting those new weapons is one of the reasons why I keep grinding away at these games. Instead, enemies now drop energy gems. Different types drop different gems, which are then used to craft specific weapons. In other words, you’re not as beholden to the random-number generator as you may have been in the past. If you don’t use shotguns, you won’t be disappointed to learn at level completion that the crates you picked up were filled to the brim with those unwanted weapon types. Instead, you get blueprints for new weapons, and you choose whether you want to devote your resources to unlocking them. In practice, it’s a subtle but substantial shift from what came before. My biggest takeaway was that the good weapons are going to cost you, since they naturally require more of these precious gems than trash-tier items. Another appreciated tweak: There’s a 30-second countdown when you complete a mission objective, giving you a clear amount of time to scramble around the battlefield and snatch up all your loot. It beats frantically rolling around, trying to beat the victory tune and the inevitable fade to black.

5. Class Warfare

There are four classes to pick in Iron Rain, several of which are familiar to longtime fans. The Trooper is your standard jack-of-all-trades grunt, while the Jet Lifter can get around the world faster thanks to her limited flight abilities. The Heavy Striker can wield two of every weapon, giving him considerably more firepower to accommodate his plodding movements. The coolest new addition has to be the Prowl Rider. This character uses grappling hooks to propel himself across the world in what is, let’s be real here, an homage to Spider-Man. It’s great. Better still, the new class uses experimental tech to bring captured (and hopefully tamed) bugs to fight for humanity. You can equip ants, spiders, scorpions, and more to come in and wreck stuff on your behalf. You maintain control as you ride these creatures, pinning enemies down with your scorpion’s tail or squirting some kind of corrosive goo from your ant’s posterior (try not to think about it). This mix of mobility and weird science seems like a perfect solution for players who couldn’t get past how damned slow getting around on foot could be. Sure, EDF 5’s sprint helped, but it’s not nearly as quick as using a cable to whip around the world.

6. All For One And One For All

A frustrating aspect of EDF has been that once you started playing as one class, switching to another could be painful. EDF 5 addressed the most painful aspects by allowing you to acquire weapons for classes you weren’t playing as and upgrading their armor, so you weren’t starting completely fresh if you decided to try a new class midway though the campaign. Iron Rain is overhauling weapons and support equipment entirely. Now, every class can use every unlocked weapon. If you want your Trooper to be able to bring automated turrets into battle and call down airstrikes, more power to you. Each class has an encumbrance to consider, so they may not be able to pack as much in their virtual suitcases, but players will at least be able to design their own loadouts with much greater flexibility. As someone who likes to let automated turrets do much of the work but doesn’t like EDF’s support classes, as a whole, this is an absolute godsend.

7. Big Ol’ Monsters

EDF’s campaigns have typically built up to an encounter (or two or three) with a massive kaiju-style boss. That’s definitely the case with Iron Rain. I’m not going to spoil anything, but the big bad in Yuke’s game is absolutely massive, and it looks like something that would be right at home in a Monster Hunter game – even if it could trample most of that series’ menagerie. As impressive as the first encounter was, Okajima says it wasn’t even its final form. Ultimately, it gets nearly 1,000 feet tall. Perhaps it might be wise to start saving those weapon gems for something big…

8. New Locations

Okajima says he wanted to change the venue with Iron Rain, so they did. Instead of taking place in Japan, much of Iron Rain’s combat is set across the western United States, including battles in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The environments are more detailed and varied than what we’ve seen in the past, with plenty of elevations and varied terrain. San Francisco’s hills make explosives a risky proposition, particularly if you use missiles that need space to ascend. And while the worlds aren’t exactly brimming with ambient life, there are some fun little touches. If you bonk into a cable car in San Francisco, for instance, its brakes fail and you can watch it barrel down the hill – eventually plowing into a gas station and exploding. Don’t ask why the route ends at the gas pumps. It’s EDF.

9. Character Customization 

The series has dabbled with character customization, but it’s largely been relegated to picking main and alternate armor colors. Iron Rain has a full suite of options, including faces and hair, eye color, and more. It’s no surprise, considering Yuke’s WWE pedigree, where character customization is an integral part of the package. You can enter the fray in fearsome suits of armor or a swimsuit, if you’re into that kind of stuff. It’s a small detail, but worth noting: You can earn special decorative emblems by completing combat challenges or finding hidden items in the world. It’s a great way to show off your achievements if you decide to dabble in the game’s online multiplayer. 

10. A Robot Can Pick Up Your Bus

During my demo, I was driving a bus around like a jackass and then a robot picked up the bus and crushed it like an empty beer can. That’s probably all you need to know about EDF: Iron Rain.

EDF: Iron Rain is coming to PlayStation 4  on April 11.

Categories: Games

Final Fantasy XV's Last DLC Gets Date

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 16:15

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Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix Release: November 29, 2016 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Square Enix has announced that Episode Ardyn – the last DLC for Final Fantasy XV is coming out on March 26. The DLC is set 35 years before the game and is told through the villain's perspective.

Before then check out the animated short above which serves as a prequel to the DLC.

[Source: Square Enix]

Categories: Games

Combat Gameplay And Relationship-Building Are The Focus Of The Latest Trailer

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 15:53

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

The latest trailer for the upcoming open world One Piece game, World Seeker, shows off a fair bit of the combat gameplay, and it also details how you will acquire and complete sidequests, and how that will affect your relationships with your crew and the other characters you meet in the world. You can check out the trailer above.

One Piece: World Seeker is coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC on March 15. For more on the game, you can head here to read all of our coverage of the game so far.

Categories: Games

New Breach Update Adds Medic Class & More

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 15:40

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Developer: QC Games Release: 2019

Earlier this year Breach – a co-operative, customizable action RPG – launched into Early Access, and developer QC Games is already updating the game with new content and improvements from fans' time with the title.

The Patch 0.1: Valley of Kings (click for full patch notes) introduces the titular map, the medic class, new boss Sekhmet (the Egyptian goddess of war), and various tweaks and improvements.

The video above showcases the new medic class, giving helpful examples of how the class' microbots can be summoned to aid you and your party.

The patch also introduces requested Hero Only and Veil Demon Only queues (the title's overall gameplay premise is that four players take on one Veil Demon player), an optional ranking system, and the Onryo – a new faction of monsters for the Tokyo map.

QC Games says the plan is to put out one major update a month, with weekly updates in between.

In other Breach news, those wanting to now buy into the game's Early Access can do so for $10, which also nets them a 30-day XP/Gold boost and 2,000 QC Points. Those who've already supported the game by buying the Founder's Pack get 3,000 QC Points as thanks.

For more on the game, see it in action in this episode of New Gameplay Today.

[Source: QC Games]

Categories: Games

The Universe Of The Outer Worlds

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 19:45

One of the most exciting aspects of The Outer Worlds is the opportunity to see the role-playing experts at Obsidian try their hand at a brand-new setting. While the gameplay of this new franchise draws comparisons to other first-person RPGs, the universe that players explore is entirely new. Set in a distant corner of the galaxy, The Outer Worlds is a fascinating mix of classic sci-fi pulp and an irreverent send-up of corporate culture and capitalism. The character you play is, in many ways, as much an outsider as you are as the player – a recently unfrozen colonist forced to contend with a bizarre culture and alien solar system – and that backdrop promises to be especially memorable.

Not As You Remember

“This is an alternate history,” says co-director Leonard Boyarsky. “There was a point where the timeline split off. It was at a certain point, around the time of Einstein. There was a first World War, but it was for different reasons. And maybe there wasn’t a second World War.” One of the defining features that set Earth apart in this new timeline is the nature of companies, classism, and the central importance of money-making. Imagine the already absurd power of corporations, banks, and billionaires in the real world, and ratchet it up several more degrees. “What if the trusts hadn’t been broken up?,” Boyarsky muses. “You have these robber barons at the turn of the 20th century. A couple of hundred years later, what if we still have that culture?”

In this twist on history, Earth is already the domain of massive and powerful companies as humanity begins to spread out across the stars. Rather than the intrepid explorers and diplomats of some other science fiction properties, it’s the reaching arm of capitalism that sends humanity hurtling into the void, and habitable planets across the galaxy are being carved up like parcels of land in the American Old West. This first installment of The Outer Worlds focuses on one particular solar system called Halcyon, and the ten companies that banded together to purchase it. “The corporations have pretty much taken over everything,” Boyarsky says. “But they want to go that last little bit and make it the perfect society for corporations. When Earth was colonizing the furthest reaches of the galaxy, they bought one of the furthest colonies and set up what they thought would be a corporate utopia, where they can control every aspect of people’s lives.”

When speaking to the developers at Obsidian, it’s especially exciting to learn how expansive this new universe really is. While Halcyon has received the bulk of the attention and fleshing out, the team isn’t shy about highlighting this one solar system as just one part of a larger network of humans across the stars. “We made a list of the other colonies,” says co-director Tim Cain. “They have names and what their major products are. There are some companies and governments that were big enough that they just bought a colony on their own. Ours is unusual in that there are ten different corporations, but it’s because it was so far away and took so much money. We also have said that there is one guy who is pretty much like the Bill Gates of the universe. He was so wealthy that he bought a colony by himself. And the first thing he did was seal it off. No one’s been there for a hundred years.”

It’s not just the path of corporate greed that has taken a different direction in The Outer Worlds. Obsidian has also spent time establishing different rules around physics and natural law; it’s all internally consistent, but it’s meant to flex to the needs of a central guiding mantra: Fun trumps realism.

The alternate nature of science is perhaps best represented by the nature of space travel, and how it feeds into the main story of the game. “In this universe they found a way of increasing your velocity discontinuously,” Cain explains. “If you can go from one velocity to another and not occupy the ones in between, you can really get really close up to the speed of light, and then jump over the light speed barrier. They found a way to do it. What’s weird is that when you do skip over light speed, you’re in some other weird space, everything’s gray, you can’t see anything, and you can’t turn.” As a result, mistakes are possible, and that’s exactly what happens with the game’s main character and the thousands of other colonists onboard The Hope, the second colony ship that had been heading to Halcyon. After coming out of skip space early, The Hope took many more years to reach its destination. And by then, this new corporate colony no longer knew what to do with them.

Home Away From Home

The Halcyon system and its colonies didn’t turn out the way the corporate board had hoped. Things looked promising in the beginning, with two seemingly habitable planets and an initial group of colonists aboard a first ship. But even before The Hope went missing, problems arose.

One of the habitable worlds, Terra 1 was a moon orbiting a massive gas giant called Olympus. Human terraforming didn’t work on the planet, and among other problems, much of the local fauna was dramatically altered, sizing it up into mega versions that pose tremendous threats to human life. In-game, Terra 1 has been renamed as Monarch, and it’s a dangerous place to live. It’s also where the board’s outsized influence has begun to fray, as many groups and individuals are rebelling against the companies.

For players, Monarch will replicate some of the expectations of an open-world space, but on a smaller scale. “Monarch has a bigger wide-open playspace,” Boyarsky says. “There’s three or four different little towns on Monarch. Because it has a big, wide-open area, you can walk between them, or just fly to the different ones in your ship once you unlock the landing pads.”

The other comfortably habitable planet orbiting the Halcyon star is called Terra 2, and it remains much more under the sway of the board. Here, the colonists have largely accepted and even embraced their roles as corporate workers, but the façade is slowly breaking down, as towns slowly fall into disarray. Marauding thugs who have abandoned the company life wander around outside the towns. And even inside, the appearance of homey comfort has begun to fray as prefab structures have begun to fall apart and jobs remain unfilled, even as the various companies try to keep up good appearances.

It’s here that players will visit one of several contained locales, including the smaller settlements of Edgewater (inside the Emerald Vale), and Roseway, the town first shown in early videos for The Outer Worlds. Terra 2 is also home to Byzantium, the gilded city of the well-to-do, where every Halcyon colonist wishes they could live. Byzantium is closed off to those without the means to be appropriate residents; it’s a literal gated community with secrets that lesser company workers will simply never learn.

While Terra 2 and Monarch are the two largest and most involved environments that players will encounter, they are not the only places that players will visit. Several other smaller destinations play important roles in the unfolding game, especially the ship that brought that first group of colonists to the system. “The Groundbreaker is the original colony ship, parked in the Lagrange point of Terra 2,” Cain explains. This station acts as a main port for the system, as ships come and go. “Freighters that come from out of the colony unload their stuff there, and go from there to be delivered around the colony,” Boyarsky says. “There’s some people there who live a bit outside the law.”

In addition to rubbing elbows with the criminal element aboard the station, players will also rocket off to some of the other less-friendly planetary bodies around the system. There’s an asteroid called Scylla, which contains some laboratories and transmitting stations. “There’s a lot of abandoned stuff there; there’s no town on Scylla,” Boyarsky says.

“We also have Tartarus, which is kind Venusian, but it’s even worse,” Cain says. “It’s just a nasty planet. It’s where the maximum security prison is, run by United Defense Logistics; Spacer’s Choice is a wholly owned subsidiary.” We don’t know much about Tartarus, or what business the players might have on a prison planet, but one of its chief exports does make for an amusing aside. “There’s a product sold called Tartarus Sauce, for dipping Saltuna fish sticks,” Cain says with a smile. “What they do is they take mayonnaise and they expose it the caustic environment of Tartarus for just a few seconds, and then put the lid back on, and they sell it. It makes the mayo really tangy, because it introduces a lot of very low-level toxins. There’s not a lot of restrictions on corporate food products.”

Some of the other “outer worlds” of Halcyon are less likely to be on-foot destinations in the game, but may play a role in an understanding of the full setting. There’ the ice-planet of Typhon, around which The Hope has been parked until the company’s governing board can figure out what to do with it. Obsidian also shared that Eridanos is a gas giant currently being mined for resources, and another celestial body is named Hephaestus, a small mineral-rich planet near the sun.

The idea is to create a believable space for players to explore as they adventure across space, and that means that not every site can be visited. But even the places you do visit aren’t likely to offer the standard space opera fantasy that the plasma rifles and rocket ships of this universe might at first suggest.

Subverting Expectation

The Outer Worlds is first and foremost a rollicking outer space adventure, but like the original Fallout that Cain and Boyarsky helped create, one of the magic ingredients is a healthy dose of social commentary (often couched in absurdist humor). Any understanding of the game’s setting is incomplete without grasping the ways in which this alternate history attempts to drive home some uncomfortable truths about capitalism, bureaucracy, and the people who blissfully buy the company line without question.

“It adds something interesting, with the juxtaposition of this grand space adventure, even as we are going from corporate town to corporate town,” Boyarsky says. “There’s hopefully enough space adventure and heroics in there to satisfy people, and we don’t want people to think this a trip through bureaucracy, but there is that aspect to it.”

Everywhere a player visits, they’re reminded not just of a company culture that is governing the entirety of this society, but equally important, the people who buy into that system. The colonists are terrified of unemployed people as much as they are of monsters – what could be worse than not having a job with the company? They blithely quote company slogans like they’re maxims for good living. Even the religion (The Order of Scientific Inquiry) instills the mindset that everyone is right where they’re meant to be, and straying from your job or place in life is tantamount to heresy. “What’s good for the corporation is good for the workers, and even good for humanity,” Boyarsky says. “There’s no greater good than serving the corporation.”

“If you go into Obsidian’s kitchen there’s this thing listing employee rights,” Cain notes. “In our fictional world, you go into the kitchen and there’s a list of employer rights.” Individuals are trained from birth to put the company first, and recognize that they are more replaceable than the machines on which they work. People love their company like it’s the local sports team. The player is forced to contend with that mindset and its seeming insanity, and then accept the ways in which it echoes elements of corporate loyalty and tribalism in our own very real society.

The result is a setting that makes us uncomfortable, even while it offers an escape into world of ray guns and spaceships. Behind the adventure, The Outer Worlds pokes fun at the absurdity of such a society, while making it just believable enough to make you think. “We like to subvert people’s expectations,” Boyarsky says. “We’re drawn to deeper social commentary, even though we’re not pretending we’re profound or anything. We like to play around in that arena.”

“We’re not making colony simulator,” Cain adds. “We’re just trying to make this a really fun environment. And if we can do some social commentary along the way, so be it.”

For more on The Outer Worlds, don’t miss out on our still-growing hub of features, interviews, and videos by clicking on the banner below.

Categories: Games

New Gameplay Today – Yoshi's Crafted World

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 02/18/2019 - 14:00

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Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Good Feel Release: March 29, 2019 Rating: Everyone Platform: Switch

Nintendo's dino pal is back, though let's be honest here – he's never really gone away. This time around, he's romping through more cuddly, handcrafted worlds. How is Yoshi's Crafted World? Game Informer's Imran Khan got to play some of the single-player and co-op, and also checked out the same level, both front and back. Don't worry, it'll all make sense.

Don't expect to be blown away by challenging platforming, Imran says. Instead, this one's all about having a chill adventure and solving light puzzles. He probably needs a break after getting smacked around in Smash, after all.

Yoshi's Crafted World is coming to Nintendo Switch on March 29.

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