New Gameplay Today – Rainbow Six Siege's Burnt Horizon Update

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 19:00

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Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Release: 2015 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The latest update for Rainbow Six Siege, Burnt Horizons, is out now, which adds a little Australian flair to the action. Our own Leo Vader got a chance to play the new map and both operators recently, and came back with some pro-level footage. Ladies and gentlemen, this is gaming.

The new operators include Mozzie, who can hack drones and take control of them; and Gridlock, who can shut down roamers by deploying a self-replicating network of spiky traps. Leo is excited for how both characters can potentially change the meta, which he dives into while narrating his 4K gameplay footage.

As for the new map, it has a giant shark.

Burnt Horizons is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Negan Goes To Bat In Tekken 7 This Month

Game Informer News Feed - Sun, 02/17/2019 - 18:30
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Bandai Namco Release: June 2, 2017 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Batter up. Negan was revealed a while back to be one of Tekken 7's DLC characters but it wasn't until today we got a date.

The Walking Dead favorite will be available on February 28 for those who have the fighter pass. You can watch him (and fellow DLC fighter Julia) in action here:

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For more on Tekken 7, check out our review.

Categories: Games

Amy Confirmed As Next DLC Character

Game Informer News Feed - Sat, 02/16/2019 - 19:07
Publisher: Bandai Namco Developer: Project Soul Release: October 19, 2018 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4

Bandai Namco has announced who the third of four planned DLC characters will be coming to Soulcalibur VI as part of the game's season pass.

Amy Sorel, who was first made playable back in Soulcalibur III, will be returning the to the weapons-based fighting series, the company announced at this year's Evo Japan. Sporting a rapier-wielding style similar to her adopted father Raphael, Amy has a few tricks up her sleeves, including quick mix-up strings, a rose toss, and a slide that can extend combos. You can watch her in action in the Japanese-language trailer below.

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The announcement seems to give credence to a leak from data-mined info from late last year that could mean Cassandra will be the next DLC character, as that leak showed that both she and Amy were in the game's config file. Hopefully, that'll the case.

Categories: Games

Here’s Everything We Know About Fire Emblem: Three Houses

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 22:10

Publisher: Nintendo Release: Spring 2019 Platform: Switch

Nintendo and Intelligent Systems finally provided some concrete details about the upcoming Fire Emblem entry, Three Houses, during the latest Nintendo Direct. A lot of interesting stuff was revealed, but arguably the biggest tidbit of info is the July 26 release date. Here is the most notable information we gleaned from the presentation.

The Game Is Harry Potter As Hell
Back when Nintendo revealed Three Houses, the fact it took place at a school and had its student body separated into houses resulted in many people noticing similarities between the game and the popular Harry Potter franchise. The latest video has only doubled down on those similarities. As a professor at the Officer's Academy, you training your students with exercises and exams while building your relationship with them as their teacher. Interiors for the academy show in the Direct echo the stone design castle of Hogwarts as well.

New Continent, New Characters
Three Houses takes place on the continent of Fódlan, which is divided into three kingdoms: Adrestian, Faerghus, and Leicester. All the kingdoms live in relative harmony and send their high-born children to the monastery of Garreg Mach. We don't know much about the plot beyond that setup and you taking the role of a professor at that academy. However, given Fire Emblem's fondness for exploring violent and philosophical divisions between kingdoms, we wouldn't be surprised to see these three  eventually warring with one another.

Permadeath Is Likely Returning
During the presentation, Nintendo stated that "Whether your students live or die will depend on your leadership." There has been no explicit outlining of how permadeath will work (or even if it will feature in the game), but given the series' history that statement seems to imply it will. Every Fire Emblem since Awakening has also had the option to turn off permadeath as well, so we might see that, too.

You Choose Between Three Factions
Each of the three houses (Black Eagles, Blue Lions, and Golden Deer) of the academy are tied to one of the kingdoms on Fódlan's continent (respectively: Adrestian, Faerghus, Leicester).  During the game, you choose to lead the education for one of the houses, caring for all the students under that house banner, including the heir apparent for the kingdom.

The School Is Packed
While fans might be nervous that the school setting will result in fewer units to use on the battlefield and characters to get to know, the Direct briefly mentioned: "There are many students to meet, each with their own personality and skills." 

You Are Actually Teaching During The Game
Your role as a professor isn't just a title. The gameplay featured during the Direct showed the player able to plan and carry out lessons, as well as tutor students one-on-one. They can even give exams.

You Can Select Your Protagonist's Gender
As was the case with Awakening and Fates, you have the opportunity to select your main character's gender at the beginning of the campaign.

No Word On Whether Or Not Relationships Return
Both Awakening and Fates allowed players to have members in their armies date one another and even produce offspring. Given that this entry takes place in a school setting, that premise might be difficult, and neither Nintendo nor Intelligent Systems have said anything about that feature yet.

Battle Systems Are Being Tweaked 
Instead of single units moving across the battlefield, per series norm, units will often have battalions troops at their back to support them during battle. No word yet on how that affects stats during battle.

There's A Lot More 3D This Go Round
Fates and Awakening featured 3D models on the battlefield, sure, but in the quieter moments in your home base, you were mostly talking to character portraits in traditional visual-novel style. However, you're able to roam around Garreg Mach as a 3D character speaking to other 3D characters in Three Houses. The models are also a big improvement over the previous games, with them actually having feet and detailed faces.

The Supernatural Is Involved Once Again
It just wouldn't be Fire Emblem without fantastical elements. The series has always danced with fantasy, focusing on necromancers, dragons, and mages. Three Houses has its own share of the fantastical, with spell-casting powers on display during the direct as well as a mysterious girl named Sothis appearing in your main character's visions.

For more on Fire Emblem: Three Houses, head here.

Categories: Games

Yo-kai Watch 3 Review - Tokyo To Texas

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 19:02

If you had to explain Yo-kai Watch in a nutshell to someone who's never heard of or played it, you might boil it down to "Pokemon but with Japanese ghosts" or "Baby's first Shin Megami Tensei." Anything grim or distressing about a kid who can talk to ghosts goes by the wayside when the ghosts are comical entities like a missing left sock or a possessed police car. In this third expansive and quirky outing for the Yo-kai Watch series, our hero Nate has to take on a quest far more daunting than anything he’s faced so far: moving to America.

Specifically, Nate's family ends up moving to BBQ, an over-the-top caricature of Texas, for his dad's job, and finds that the U.S. has supernatural problems all its own that he and his best yokai buddies, a cat named Jibanyan and an uber-effete ghost butler named Whisper, have to handle. Meanwhile, back in Nate's hometown of Springdale (which is located in Japan), a bubbly ball of nerdy energy named Hailey-Anne is enticed into buying a Yo-kai Watch of her own, which ties her to Usapyon, a ghost astronaut rabbit. Stuck with each other, they form a detective agency.

That's really over-the-top as far as a game aimed squarely at a younger audience goes, and that's largely a result of how it's been localized. Yo-kai Watch 3 was originally two games in Japan, with Nate and Hailey-Anne's stories comprising a game each. The version released in the West has combined the two, allowing players to switch to the other campaign at will, before the two stories converge in the later hours. It's a daring choice that allows you a ton of control over how you experience the sprawling narrative, but it also highlights just how much the narrative didn't need to sprawl to begin with. The first major plot points of both stories--Nate meeting a boy in BBQ who can see yokai as well, and Hailey-Anne starting the detective agency--are a good five or six hours in. Having both stories in the same package is a positive, but having to manually thread together two stories that could already stand to be a little more concise is less so.

On the plus side, that does give you ample reason to slow down and really take in your surroundings, which is really one of the greater joys in this game. Despite the aesthetic, the interpretations of Japan and Texas are surprisingly intricate places full of people worth speaking to and places to wander off to. As the game went on, one of my favorite things to do in it was to ride the trains in Springdale, missing stops just to look around. In addition, Nate's story has the compelling element of him trying to get accustomed to American culture, and on occasion, work you do in one of the towns--unlocking an app, or asking someone for a favor--affects the story in the other. But by and large, much of the first half of the game has both Nate and Hailey-Anne doing random fetch quests or being distracted with the game's numerous side missions, which are fun but wholly tangential from the main game. That creates a major problem with pacing early on.

Yo-kai Watch has always been an accessible series, and this third entry is no different. The cycle of gameplay usually boils down to Nate finding a possessed human doing something unusual, using the watch to reveal the yokai controlling them, and getting into a simple showdown with it. After these battles, there's a strong chance it joins your menagerie of friendly yokai who can be used to fight other yokai--of which there are a whopping 600-plus. There are very few of what seasoned RPG veterans might consider a dungeon, and when there are, as long as you've found at least six yokai you like, you can blow through nearly all of them in mere minutes, with no real pressing need to collect more except for the sheer joy of collecting them.

Combat does ostensibly have some measure of depth compared to the series' predecessors, with the addition of a 3x3 grid system that allows you to move yokai around to dodge attacks and pick up special items. There's also plenty of information about each yokai which you can put to good use, such as elemental weaknesses and their preferred food. That's all alongside familiar mechanics like quirky mini-games used to heal yokai that have been afflicted with status effects or to charge up ultimate (or more accurately, Soultimate) attacks. But with the exception of the occasional boss fight and the rather welcome difficulty spike of the final third of the game, it's rare that you actually have to utilize any of these mechanics. So much of the game's combat is a passive experience, but neglecting to have a full grasp of it when the game finally expects you to be proactive in battle will eventually get you in serious trouble.

These are the things that make Yo-kai Watch excellent as an introductory RPG for beginners. For everyone else, however, the game has to endear itself in between major plot points on sheer charm which, thankfully, it's more than capable of delivering. On the Hailey-Anne side, what comes off as grating over-enthusiasm at the start settles down over time to become unflappable optimism and curiosity. The girl fears absolutely nothing, even when giant demons start showing up that send her running through the streets. Her alliance with Usapyon evolves from one of convenience to a genuinely sweet elementary school partnership over time, especially as the details of Usapyon's origins become clearer.

Having both stories in the same package is a positive, but having to manually thread together two stories that could already stand to be a little more concise is less so.

As mentioned, Nate's side has an even more intriguing angle. For some reason, the localization obscures the fact that Nate's hometown of Springdale is in Japan, but the touchstones of a kid dealing with severe culture shock are still here. Even when American culture is as hilariously exaggerated as it is, there's something subtly poignant about an ostensibly Japanese kid exploring an all-American city for the first time. And as his circle of friends expands to include Buck, a wild-haired kid with a deep southern drawl, so too does his experience with American yokai and all the loud and proud aspects of such.

It's still a game aimed at a young crowd, though, and the game's poignancy is undercut a bit by wild reactions, non-sequitur humor, and impromptu j-pop musicals. Most of the scarier aspects of the game dealing with the existence and management of the afterlife have been softened to the absolute extreme. The game was only ever going to get so serious, and the winking nods to more adult fare like The Godfather, Fist of the North Star, The X-Files, and Twin Peaks are indeed just that: playful winks. It's less the competitive Growlithe-eat-Growlithe world of Pokemon than a cheerful, wacky playground where Pokemon-like creatures happen to live.

There's not much to Yo-kai Watch 3, but there’s still a lot of charm to be found. The towns of Springdale and BBQ are both bright, pleasant places to be; the people in it are even more so. Visiting the world of Yo-kai Watch for the third time is a fun time, even though you’ll end up staying a lot longer than perhaps necessary.

Categories: Games

Metro Primed

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:45
Publisher: Deep Silver Developer: 4A Games Release: February 15, 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Metro Exodus is finally coming out after a fairly significant delay and it seems like things worked out quite well according to our review. Players can finally journey back into the cold world of Metro and figure out how to survive in the post-apocalypse and today's launch trailer helps reinforce those themes.

Check out the launch trailer below.

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The trailer shows off the various oppressive environments you'll be journeying through in the game, along with the kind of enemies that will try to kill you in them. 

Metro Exodus is available today on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

Everything You Need To Know About The World Of Anthem

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:41

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: BioWare Release: February 22, 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Anthem is breaking the mold of what we expect from BioWare. With its focus on cooperative multiplayer, flight-based movement, and long-term player investment, it’s safe to say that that the game stands apart from projects like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. Nonetheless, the studio’s penchant for world-building and deep lore remain in full effect; Anthem is a rich treasure trove of fiction ahead of its launch. Independent of any storytelling that might happen in the actual game, there’s a lot to get excited about in the universe that BioWare has crafted around Anthem.

In advance of the game’s full release, we spoke with Anthem’s lead writers, Cathleen Rootsaert and Jay Watamaniuk. They explained the history of the Anthem world, the nature of the Anthem of Creation, the big threats facing the player characters, and more.

Read the full interview below.

Game Informer: The game is called Anthem. What is the Anthem of Creation, and how does it affect the game world as it exists as players will find it at the beginning of the game?

Cathleen Rootsaert: The anthem of creation exists in this world. It was what built this world. That's basically it. But it is not a benevolent force. It is a churning, chaotic, often destructive force, because the world is unfinished, and the Anthem of Creation was left behind to continually create, sometimes for good, sometimes for bad. Not with any sort of intention, but just this force that is churning and creating the world of Anthem. The Shapers tried to contain the Anthem and to bend it to their will, and have it create the world in the image that they had in their mind. We don't know why they left it, but they left it unfinished. And so the Anthem of Creation, the giant machines, tech, and relics are constantly at odds with each other, creating chaos.

So the Shapers weren't necessarily the creators of the Anthem, they were the ones who were utilizing it for their own ends?

CR: We don't know.

Jay Watamaniuk: Yeah that's a bit of a chicken and egg. We're not sure what the connection is between the two, or who used what. The people who live in the world of Anthem have no answer for that question.

Do the people of the world have confidence that the Shapers were actual beings that lived in the world at some point in the past?

JW: There's a variety of ideas behind what people call the Shapers. All the people living today in the world of Anthem have the wreckage of these massive machines, these relics, these constructs that are strewn about the place. So, there are several ideas: were they beings that lived on this world? Were they ever here? What were they? Were the Shapers the machines themselves? There's a bunch of different opinions, a bunch of different hypotheses on that, but nobody's certain about what they are. That whole category is referred to as the Shapers.

CR: We tried not to create one religion, you know what I mean? So, it really mirrors Earth today.

To put that another way, it sounds like you're suggesting there's different people who have different opinions about what and who the Shapers were, and those sometimes take on spiritual or religious significance for people, but nobody really factually knows the truth. Is that right?

CR: That's right. And I would say, it's going to be religious for some people and purely scientific for others. The faction that we have called the Arcanists, they study the Shapers, but they're not, they don't worship them as gods or anything, it's more scientific for them.

JW: Yeah, they don't try to figure out the relationship of the Shapers and the Anthem through a religious lens; it's purely scientific.

Well, the dovetails well with the next question I have. Who are the Arcanists. Is that a designation like a scientist? Or is that an order of people who have gathered together of like mind? And what is their primary interest?

JW: As Cathleen mentioned, they are a group. You go and you want to become an Arcanist, versus it being a title. It's something you would need to pursue, like a career or a calling. They are the ones that are trying to establish: ‘what are the fundamental rules of this world?’ This world that keeps changing due to the conflict between the Anthem and the Shaper constructs. So they're trying to lay down the rules. Essentially, they are the scientists. They are the ones you go to for these bigger questions, but they are also the innovators of the world. The creation of technology sits with Arcanists. Now we've got offshoots, we've got engineers and specialists and things like that, but Arcanists are definitely identified as those that are trying to pursue scientific truth.

What are the Scars? From early glimpses, it seems like the Scars have a pretty strange experience of life, and I wonder if you could describe a little bit about who and what they are.

JW: That is a fine phrase that we will steal and give you no credit for. So yes, you are absolutely correct. They are strange beings, a strange race. Now some of the stuff is shrouded in a bit of mystery, I won't be getting into today, but I want to carefully make sure that they are not considered animals or anything like that. They have a society. They just have hive minds. There's more than a nod to an insect colony in how they go about things. How they act. Things like that. It's more akin to locusts. They’re scavengers. They're very well known to be scavengers. They'll strip down Striders or anything they come upon and use it to build their own nests and hives. Their origins are shrouded in mystery, but they are almost like a plague that needs to be contained. And they're extremely difficult to contain. So they're part of this constant threat, against Fort Tarsis, against anyone within Bastion, which is the territory that the game takes place in.

What is the distinction then between Scars and Escari?

JW: The Escari are actually a higher form of Scars. The Escari are Scar. They have just developed into something far more powerful. You get enough Scars together, one of them will sort of evolve into something stronger.

And is there a quality about the Scars and this higher form of Escari where they're copying other life forms? Is that the idea?

JW: Yes, they're running around, and they look like people, but I can assure you they are not. They are more mimics than anything.

For lack of a better term, what are the other "alien threats" in the world, if we think about the Scar as being this sort of strange race/entity, are there other creatures that are roaming around out there in the world that aren't exactly like humans?

CR: Yes, so at the beginning, the very first mission of the game when you go into the Heart of Rage, it is a cataclysm. And the cataclysm is something that is one of the most chaotic events that we come across in the world. And it is Shapers and the Anthem pushing against each other. There are two different kinds of threats that can come from a cataclysm. We have Elementals and Chimera. An elemental is something like the Titan that you fight at the end of the first mission. They are actually born out of the chaos of the cataclysm. So they are a monster born from this conflict with the Anthem of Creation. The Anthem has created these elementals. And then we have something called Chimera. And Chimera are the animals of the world who are essentially changed by cataclysms and by Shaper events. Those are two more of the threats in this world. And then there's the grabbit. I would not cuddle a grabbit.

What's a grabbit?

CR: Well a grabbit looks really, kind of gentle and huge, and they sort of hop around. But if you get close and have a really close look at the teeth on a grabbit, those are extremely sharp: that's a mouthful of sharp razors. And so I wouldn't trust them. A lot of the fauna in the world of Anthem are actually super deadly, for example we have one with an electric charge that will basically tentpole your javelin right out of the sky. So, some of the animals look innocuous, but they'll kill you. That's the thing. This world will kill you.

JW: I imagine the sub-heading of this article to be: Never trust a grabbit.

Let's switch gears a bit and talk about the history of this world, as players will encounter it. Who was Helena Tarsis and why is she remembered so clearly by the people of this world?

CR: So Helena Tarsis was the first leader with the creation of the javelins who founded something called the Legion of Dawn. At that time, years and years ago, people were oppressed by another race called the Urgoth. And so Helena Tarsis with her Legion of Dawn rose up against the Urgoth and defeated them and drove them from Bastion. So, she was instrumental in our people being freed from slavery, because we were slaves to the Urgoth.

Is there anything we know about the Urgoth?

CR: Just that they are bad news.

JW: This was centuries and centuries ago. So it was sort of this great, oppressive race that were completely shattered and defeated by General Tarsis. It's part of our history.

CR: And they're also very much people of myth. Throughout the world you'll find Urgoth statues. There's a relief of the myth of Helena Tarsis defeating the Urgoth. Very much like the Knights of the Round Table, her story has been mythologized. She inspired those sorts of stories.

Are there other individual figures that you feel are really important in the history of this fictional world?

CR: Well, I'll just let Jay jump in here after this, but the thing about the Legion of Dawn was after the death of Helena Tarsis, the Legion of Dawn split into three factions. The three factions that we experience in our game, so the Freelancers, the Sentinels, and the Dominion. They each claim Helena Tarsis and the Legion of Dawn as their origin story, but they had a falling out and now they are there completely separate factions.

What is the distinction between those three groups?

JW: The fundamental reason for the split is because is that they had different ways of interpreting what General Tarsis did with her life her  and acts that she is known for. The Sentinels are the ones that established Fort Tarsis and this gigantic wall. Now the Sentinels believe that this is our island of civilization in this in this sea of monsters and chaos. We will defend this. We are the shields against the chaos of the world versus humanity, and that is where law and order are. So that's sort of the foundation of the beliefs of Sentinels. "If one of them stands, the wall remains" is something that they say.

Versus Freelancers. Freelancers are beholden to no one, they have no real organization. Freelancers will go out beyond the wall and deal with problems out there. The problems are diverse, they're either taking care of someone, rescuing someone, helping people, silencing shaper relics when they when they're out of control. There's a variety of tasks. And so, between those two groups there's a bit of friction because they differ in how they want to protect humanity. They both have that goal, but they accomplish it in different ways.

And we have the Dominion which is a different set of beliefs. They are the ones that pursued this oppressive race that held humanity down because they wanted to destroy them, and they have a far more aggressive approach to what they do. And so they have become an expansionist empire, and they have gone north and then not much was heard from them. In our game, the threat of the Dominion is very, very real. And while the world is out to kill you, as we mentioned before, the most recent thing out to kill you is that the Dominion are coming. So, there’s a stark difference between the Dominion and the other two groups that that came from the tradition of General Tarsis.

And the players will be controlling Freelancers?

JW: That's correct. We figured it would be more interesting for the player if you could fly up beyond the wall and check out what's there versus standing on the wall.

Fair enough. That would be very different kind of a game. A lot slower paced.

JW: Quite different, yes. More of an RTS.

Is it fair to say the Sentinels and the Freelancers are allied? Just maybe not always in complete agreement?

JW: They're absolutely allies. When it comes down to it they just differ so wildly in how they go about their jobs their vocation that there's friction there. And there's always been friction there and a little bit of mistrust. You essentially have the person that stays in the fort and then you've got this weird sort of other guy that flies over the wall and deals with these very strange problems, so there's an element of "I don't quite understand what you do. I don't trust what you do." But in the end they're both working towards the same goal. They're both here to protect humanity.

What is the location called Freemark, and what happened to it?

CR: Freemark is another great city in the region of Bastion. There's Antium. Fort Tarsis is kind of like the stop on the trade route we have, like a smaller sort of place between the two large cities. And Freemark was a was another one of these great cities, and it had a very highly respected and highly-populated Freelancer enclave in it as well. It was actually built to protect a shaper relic called the Cenotaph. The Dominion believed that they had a way, using the Cenotaph, to control the Anthem of Creation. And so they busted their way into Freemark, they messed with the Cenotaph and they caused the cataclysm that became the Heart of Rage which is at the center of our story. Because now the Freelancers want to go back in.The city of Freemark was destroyed, the people died, and it was it was a horrific event, and so the Freelancers goal is to shut down the Heart of Rage because if these cataclysms keep going they just continue to destroy everything around them. They eat the land and they suck everything into their terrible force.

And is there a known way of how to stop these cataclysms?

CR: One of the specializations of the Freelancers is that they deal with Shaper constructs and and part of their goal is to stop the cataclysms before they start. And so they have some special knowledge, but it's also very much that they're flying by the seat of their pants. It's not like "oh, ok. Green wire, red wire and shut it down. Like every situation is different, because every once in a while they'll come across a Shaper construct or a relic that they've never seen before, so it's a very specialized and dangerous knowledge. We liken them to kind of like fire-jumpers. You know how they're jumping in to put out sort of oil well fires right?

You mention that the threat of the Dominion is a big part of where the story begins, and that there's this cataclysm that's ongoing that the Freelancers and the Sentinels are concerned about. What else is happening in the current events of this world?

CR: At the beginning of the game we see that the Freelancers are going in to the Heart of Rage and they're going to shut it down. And if you've played you know that it's a failure. Because of that failure, the game actually starts two years after that point, and the Freelancers are now really diminished. People don't trust them. A lot of Freelancers lost their lives trying to shut down the Heart of Rage, so a lot of what you're doing over the course of the game is to is to rebuild the reputation of the Freelancers.

Is there a leadership structure to the Freelancers? Is there somebody you're taking orders from?

JW: Unlike the Sentinels which have this sort of very clear hierarchy, Freelancers don't. They do have a system of respect and they have honorific type titles. We've got Grandmaster-type character role, but not because those people are in charge. It is simply they have experience or they have earned a reputation and thus perhaps have more sway. We've got a character in a fort, Yarrow, he is a retired Freelancer, but he deals with a lot of Freelancer business. Simply because he has earned that through his experience, and he knows a lot about what is going on. So, while he is not in charge, Freelancers do look up to him as a source of, maybe not authority, but certainly advice. So, yeah. No actual structure to the Freelancer group.

Who and what are cyphers?

CR: Cyphers are altered humans. They are altered by exposure to the element ember. In our world, long-distance communication has always been difficult. And so cyphers only start, these altered beings, only started appearing about 100 years ago?

JW: Yeah, they are recent innovation let's say.

CR: Yeah. And so, Cyphers, much like Arcanists, they pursue their calling. They go to a place called a Satomi, which is a sort of like a school for cyphers, and they learn to enhance their skills. Once they study they say that a cypher is always a little broken. So, in becoming a cypher they have had give up or have lost a certain part of who they were before. And they sit in amplifier chairs, because they are linked to Freelancers through something called a link in their Javelin suits. They can process information at incredible speed, so they sit in the amplifier chair and they help Freelancers through their mission and they help them if they come across something like a new Shaper construct they've never seen, for example. The cyphers are there to support the Freelancers.

Do the cyphers have some particular insight into the Anthem?

CR: Yes. The cyphers are tuned to the Anthem like no one else in the world. They can actually hear it. Freelancers cannot hear it, Sentinels can't, Dominion can't, but a cypher can hear it, and so for example in the first mission Faye is very much fighting against the Anthem almost driving her crazy, right? It's because she can hear it and when you meet up with Owen, Owen is very jealous of the fact that Faye has heard it. It’s very addictive, and part of Faye's whole journey is that she wants to get back go back to the Heart of Rage because she wants to hear the Anthem finish. She wants to hear the end of the song, at least metaphorically. She is very much driven. It’s almost like catnip, like a "got to get more" sort of thing. So it's dangerous and seductive.

We've talked about places like Fort Tarsis and Bastion and I wonder if you could just give me a quick summary of the geography of the game world’s geography.

JW: Sure, basically Cathleen mentioned that Fort Tarsis sits in the middle of an area or region called Bastion. And we have a very large city, the largest city, Antium, down to the south, which we don't see in this particular game so far; we don't actually go to visit Antium. Now, Fort Tarsis was kind of a waypoint between Antium and Freemark, which was to the north. Fort Tarsis acts more or less as a frontier between the two because civilization is set up in islands, these fortified cities in the midst of the wilderness –  the jungle, the chaos – all that kind of stuff makes it difficult to establish civilization. So, Fort Tarsis was a very critical and necessary step when traveling from Antium to Freemark. And Bastion is the region that actually extends beyond the border of what we've established in the game so far.

CR: We can also say that Stralheim is where the dominion are. We know that it’s like a northern region. We don't go there, but it's probably on the same continent. Bastion is one of the regions and Stralheim is one of the regions. But, beyond that, it's all kind of like, “here-be-dragons.”

Is there a name for the actual world?

JW: That's an excellent question. We'll stop there.

The last subject I want to address are these suits that the players in interacting with. What are Javelins? What makes them special? Why is it more than just a suit of armor?

JW: There's a couple foundational components to that. The first one, in the lore of the world itself, humanity was throwing off its shackles once upon a time due to two things: General Tarsis, of course, but it was really the development of the first javelin suits that allowed us to stand against the Urgoth. So, there's that. The idea that humanity is not built very well to survive in this world without special weapons and special protection. And so, with the invention and innovation of javelin suits, it allows us to not only stand up to our oppressors but to build civilization from scratch. Because once we were on our own and we were free to do what we wanted we were able to build civilization, sort of carve it out of the chaos using javelin suits. Now, in the modern day there's been refinements and changes and all that. But everyone who goes outside the walls has to be afforded some kind of protection. You've seen the giant walkers, the striders: heavily armored, slow moving; that's the kind of thing that is needed to travel any kind of long distance. So, the javelin suits are these very specialized things. They're hand-crafted, they're carefully maintained because they are the link to basic survival within the world of Anthem. There is no survival in this world without javelins.

So what are the signets and crowns as they relate to javelins?

JW: You can think of it like a metaphor of a car key and putting it into the ignition; there's a special connection between pilots and the javelin. It's also true of someone like an operator, someone who operates a strider, a special connection between that person and this piece of machinery. It's not just a suit that has servos and is articulated, and all that kind of stuff. There's a much deeper connection between a person and a machine that occurs between the action of the signet and the crown of that machine itself. Without getting too into crazy detail, it’s good to think of it as a car key going into an ignition; it's what starts you up, it's what connects you to that machine, to that javelin.

Beyond what we’ve spoken about, what else are you excited about for players to encounter in the world of Anthem?

CR: Well, I think that I would just mention that you can wander around Fort Tarsis and really get a sense of what the world is like from the people who live there. There are people that you can talk to, there are merchants, there are other cyphers, there's a bar, of course, (where everybody kicks back), there's a freelancer enclave and people with stories. And the stories of these people that live in Fort Tarsis intertwine with each other. So, you can meet an old woman and discover the story of her child, who was a freelancer. There's a gossip who sticks around the fort and there's somebody named Prospero who's there to sell you awesomeness for your suit. These people all have lives and that's really where a lot of that richness from the lore comes from. You know, if you're going to go out and play with your friends, if you're friends say: “Well, let's meet at 8 o'clock then we'll go out and we'll fly some missions,” I would hope that people would say: “You know what, I'm going to show up a half hour early and I'm going to check out Fort Tarsis; I'm going to walk around and I'm going to talk to some of the people there because I think that there's a lot of fun conversations.” And you get to know your crew. Your crew is also there, like any other BioWare game, that's where you'll find Owen, Faye, Haluk, Tassyn. You can talk to them and learn a little bit more about them and get to know them better.

JW: I think to add on to that abut the detail of Fort Tarsis, which is set up a bit like it's set up like a small town, one of the great bits that I discovered as we moved along in development is slapping on the suit and not having an endpoint, not having a marker out in the world. The artists have done such a beautiful job crafting this world. We've done our best to try to fill up with things to discover. And so, you don't need to feel pressured to be on a directed mission. Get out there, and find out what can be discovered. I mean, it's a game about exploration and it's a big, giant world and you have this excellent way to explore that. Don't miss the beauty of it. That's my advice.


Anthem is available today for PC players with EA’s Origin Access Premier and as a 10-hour trial on Xbox One, and is available on all platforms (PS4, Xbox One, and PC) on February 22.

Categories: Games

How The Outer Worlds Lets You Play Your Way

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 18:00

Publisher: Private Division Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The Outer Worlds is full of different possibilities, and depending on the choices players make, their experiences with the story and gameplay could vary greatly. That’s a foundational element of the game’s design; co-directors Leonard Boyarsky and Tim Cain have been iterating on how to accommodate player choice since their days working together on the original Fallout. We talked to the duo about why this concept is so important in The Outer Worlds, and the kinds of decisions players can expect during the journey.

Broadly speaking, Obsidian wants you to play The Outer Worlds your own way, including everything from the narrative to the gameplay. “I don’t remember how we came to this formula back when we started working on Fallout, but we just looked at a bunch of games that were out at the time, and it didn’t seem you were given a lot of options in terms of playing however you wanted to play,” Boyarsky says. “There was some player choice, but it was ‘You can be the good guy this way, or you can be the good guy that way.’”

While the story does have choices and characters at different places along the good/evil spectrum, The Outer Worlds isn’t necessarily about picking a moral alignment and sticking to it. ‘It’s not “here’s the good choice, here’s the bad one,’” Cain says. “Instead, it’s like, ‘You could this or this. This will cause X, this will cause Y. You decide what you care about.’”

“But it’s not always extreme gray areas,” Boyarsky clarifies.

“What if the more evil choice has an obviously better outcome?” Cain says. “What if more people are saved by the evil choice? But it’s evil! But the result is better! Is it a worse choice? I don’t know if you can solve morality with arithmetic, but there are some things in the game where you’re like, ‘I am not sure if this is bad.’”

It all boils down to giving players options that allow them to form an entertaining and consistent vision of their character. If you want to be noble and avoid working with bad people, that’s an option. If you want to kill everybody (well, almost), you can do that too. You can say things that are nice or mean, smart or dumb. The game will track many different variables regarding your actions, so you never know how you might see your choices reflected in a given scenario.

However, don’t expect your choices in The Outer Worlds to send your character down completely divergent paths. While the context surrounding major beats may change, the game is ultimately telling a cohesive story, which means all players must eventually confront the same scenarios. For example, in the first part of the game, you need to find a power regulator for your ship. All players need to do that to progress…but they don’t need to do it the same way.

“Our story structures look like footballs, where there are all these points that everybody will pass through,” Cain says. “With the power regulator for your ship: Did you work with people? Did you buy it? There’s more than one of them out there, so which one did you take? How did you handle the people who were using it? We try to arrange our story by thinking about the points all players are going to pass through, but then we try to remember what the context was so that things in the setting change to reflect the choice you made.”

This may seem familiar to fans of choice-driven experiences, but Obsidian’s path through the choke points is one taken less often. In other titles, those events often serve as a way to reset the action – a way for the game to make something uniform happen for all players regardless of their choices to drive the story forward. “We don’t demand that those dramatic points play out in any specific way,” Boyarsky says. "This is an impactful moment, but is it impactful because you did this, or this, or this? We try to take a neutral approach to that.”

All of this is in addition to the multiple choices you are making on the gameplay front. Which skills do you invest in? How do you prefer to take out your enemies – assuming you even want to take them out at all? “We went into this thinking about hybrids,” Cain says. “There’s a stealth path, but there’s also a stealth/combat path. But what about the stealth/talker hybrid? The person who tries to talk and sneak through situations? That would be the ultimate pacifist playthrough.”

Apart from mixing the standard combat/stealth/persuasion archetypes, players can also elect to pursue a leadership-focused playstyle. This means that your individual abilities may lean more general, but you invest in skills that allow you to leverage your companions’ talents more effectively. You might do one encounter stealthily, and then by changing who you have with you, bypass the next potential encounter with persuasion. This allows you maximum flexibility – though you also lose out on the benefits that may come from maximizing a particular approach. That’s okay! There’s no optimal way to play The Outer Worlds. To play it correctly, you just need to figure out what is interesting and fun to you, and then invest in that.

“Back even before I was working in games, when I first started considering what a computer game could be, playing text games – it just felt like there was this rich world where you could do anything,” Boyarsky says. “From back when I was young, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s what a video game should be.’ So I guess I’ve never lost that crazy idea.”


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Categories: Games

Eastshade Review - Brushing Up

Gamespot News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 04:00

There's a blacksmith, toiling away in the markets of the capital of Nava, who thinks making swords is boring. Why create something, she argues, when death is its only use? She'd rather make a kettle any day of the week. So I bought her kettle, and now I can brew all kinds of delicious, and at times mysterious, tea whenever I hole up and camp in the wilderness. And I still haven't found a sword.

Eastshade is a non-violent, first-person adventure game set in a rolling open world full of quests. Imagine an Elder Scrolls game was an old boot, and you picked it up, turned it upside down and shook it until all the combat and magic and loot, every orc and dragon and bandit fell out. Then you took a shoehorn and eased a walking simulator inside the wrinkled leather before setting off on a delightful stroll across the countryside. Eastshade is just about the loveliest, prettiest, and just bloody nicest game I've played in years.

You play an artist, recently shipwrecked in Eastshade near the small coastal village of Lyndor. After a kind chap finds you on the beach and lets you rest in his cozy cave until you recover, you resume your journey to visit and then paint your just-passed mother's favorite places in Eastshade. It's a simple setup, paying tribute to a lost loved one, and it's indicative of the kind of sincere, touching gestures you'll carry out over the course of the game.

The flow of Eastshade will be familiar to anyone who has played an open-world RPG in recent years. You speak to NPCs, at first enquiring about the local history and points of interest before delving into something more personal and finally unlocking a unique quest. A child and aspiring painter asks you to help her acquire some art supplies. A smitten merchant wants some advice on how she should pursue her romantic interest. A park ranger needs your assistance in catching and caring for an injured waterfox. Not everyone has a story to tell--there are plenty of mute, generic NPCs filling the streets--but the ones you do meet almost always open up to you in the sweetest of ways.

Most quests involve tracking down the next person in the quest chain or venturing afar to find a particular item. Some, however, require your talents as an artist. Indeed, it seems that once an Eastshadian discovers you can paint, they're quick to realize how much they'd really like some oil on canvas hanging over the fireplace. One keen art-lover asked me to paint him a picture of a chicken, so I made my way over the markets where I'd earlier spied some chickens nestling among the hay, set down my easel and painted the perfect poultry portrait.

The act of painting itself isn't simulated in any way. You simply use the mouse to drag a frame across the screen. Anything within that frame is then captured, rendered in a painterly style, and reproduced on the canvas. In essence, you're taking screenshots. As such there's much pleasure to be had in framing your subject, as anyone who has unearthed the joys of a game's photo mode can attest. I was asked by a particularly pompous villager to paint his portrait, and fully capture all his self-described nobility and heroism. He was sitting in a tavern at the time, next to a huge fireplace whose chimney stretched to the double-story ceiling, so I framed him as this tiny figure dwarfed by the imposing stone furnace. He was grateful, of course--I'm sure the game logic merely checks if the required subject is in the frame--but I found it extremely satisfying.

At a certain point you will also gain the ability to register with another local artist and begin taking commissions to earn glowstones, the local currency. It functions much like a job board: you check in, accept the gig, then return later with the finished painting and collect your cash. Each commission gives you a description of the type of painting desired and it's up to you to figure out where you need to go and what you need to include in the frame. Some are easy to identify, like a specific request for a windmill, but you may have no idea where to find it. Others are more vague, like a “starry cavern” or a “natural arch.” Either way, it's enjoyable to have your memory of the landscape tested as you struggle to recall elements of the terrain.

Sometimes you won't have a spare canvas to paint on, meaning you'll have to obtain the materials necessary to craft a new canvas. Fortunately, there are wooden boards and piles of cloth lying around the various towns and villages, and NPCs don't seem to mind at all if you walk into their homes and grab some. It's a good idea to thoroughly explore every area and collect any such craftable materials as there doesn't seem to be any limit on how much you can carry. I found I typically had enough canvases to complete quest-critical paintings, but if I'd wanted to paint for fun, as it were, I would have had to tediously wait for previously collected materials to respawn or spend my hard-earned glowstones to buy them.

Money's tight, you see, and there are other things worth purchasing. This isn't an RPG, so you won't be selling loot to finance your endeavors--though there is a sort of joke merchant who will buy anything off you for the princely sum of one glowstone. However, there are items you will need in order to access new areas of the world. A coat, for example, lets you continue to explore the countryside during the cold nights, while a tent lets you camp outdoors overnight or simply rest for a while if you need to meet someone at a certain time of day.

You'll find yourself walking a fine line between securing what you need to complete your current tasks and saving up to afford what you need to unlock new quest possibilities. I remember standing in the markets and agonizing over whether to spend what little money I had on a fishing rod (because one quest wanted me to catch a particular type of fish) or a kettle (because my pockets were already bursting with all different kinds of plants and herbs). It was a genuinely stressful moment in a game otherwise conducted entirely in serene contemplation.

Eastshade is a slow game. There's an awful lot of walking, or running once you realize there's the option, and you'll spend almost all your time trekking back and forth between villages or strolling across town from one shop to the next, ferrying this item to that person and hoping to speak to so-and-so about this-and-that. It would quickly grow tiresome were it not for the dinky penny-farthing bicycle you can buy and the presence of craftable fast travel items, and more importantly, the immense natural beauty found in every corner, along every path, and over every crest of the world.

Indeed, Eastshade is a slow game that moves at just the right pace. From the warm, golden sunlight filtering through the dense canopy of the Great Tree to the pools of water on the terrace farms that skirt the city glittering in the morning light, you'll constantly find yourself stopping to catch your breath. Even after treading the same cobbled road a dozen or more times, hours later I would still find myself admiring the scenery, expansive vistas and minute details alike.

The pace perfectly complements your actions, too. This is a game about taking your time and paying attention to the environment through which you're moving. You have a quest log and a map of the land, but there are no quest markers or waypoints telling you where to go. You have to read the lay of the land and remember details of where you've been. As you travel, the geographical contours of the world gradually become imprinted in your mind until you could paint them almost from memory alone. Almost.

By giving you a paintbrush (and a kettle) instead of a sword, Eastshade is a rare first-person open world game that's not about killing but rather about doing good deeds, helping people see the error of their ways, and bringing communities together all through the power of art. It's a breath of fresh Eastshadian air and a genuine, unironic feel-good game. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to put the kettle on.

Categories: Games

Rainbow Six Siege Introduces Two New Australian Operators

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 02/15/2019 - 01:20
Publisher: Ubisoft Developer: Ubisoft Release: 2015 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Ubisoft has steadily added dozens of operators to Rainbow Six Siege, their team-based tactical multiplayer shooter, over the years since its release. The cast has exploded in terms of skill and character diversity and two new operators, named Gridlock and Mozzie, are representing the land down under in upcoming appearance.

Check out their reveal trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Gridlock and Mozzie are an attacker and defender respectively. With Gridlock, players can lock down areas using caltrops and ambush enemies. Mozzie on the other hand focuses mostly counter-intelligence and can hide the team from attackers finding them.

A full unveiling of the characters will take place on February 17 at the Rainbow Six Siege Invitational in Montreal, Canada.

Categories: Games

You Can Get Fortnite's Season 8 Battle Pass For Free

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:00
Publisher: Epic Games Developer: Epic Games Release: July 25, 2017 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS

Epic Games has a valentine for you, and it's a free Fortnite Battle Pass.

While players wait for Season 8 to begin, they can complete 13 Overtime Challenges to nab next season's Battle Pass for free. The Battle Pass gives players two Season 8 outfits instantly, with the potential to earn up to five more. Make sure to complete those challenges soon – the giveaway ends February 27.

Patch v7.40 also brings back gifting for a limited time, from now until February 22. As an extra Valentine's Day bonus, players can send the Heartspan Glider to a friend for free until February 15 at 7 p.m. EST.

Players who are hungry for new game modes will enjoy the new limited time mode – Catch! — which removes guns from the game completely, restricting players to grenades and throwable objects like Port-a-Forts.

You can read the full patch notes on the official Fortnite blog here.

Categories: Games

Catherine: Full Body Gets September Release Date

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 17:55
Publisher: Atlus Developer: Atlus Release: 2019 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Click here to watch embedded media

In the spirit of Valentine's Day, Catherine: Full Body, the remastered version of the 2011 cult-classic, got a release date. It will be released on September 3, and it will come with plenty of new content for returning fans.

In addition to improved visuals, Full Body will have over twice as many puzzles as the original and a Safety Mode that allows players to skip any if they get stuck or just want to see the story play out. The Full Body version of the game will also include an entirely new character, Rin, to make the story just a bit more complicated.

Atlus is also releasing a Heart's Desire collector's edition of the game for $79.99, which comes housed in a box modeled after the game's puzzling towers. This edition also include a steelbook case, art book, the game soundtrack, and a sheep plush.

Catherine: Full Body will release on September 3 for PlayStation 4. Check out our review of the original game here, or watch us play the game on a recent episode of Replay.

Categories: Games

Crackdown 3 Review In Progress - Man Of Steel

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 13:01

Editor's note: This review in progress covers only the campaign portion of Crackdown 3. We will be updating and finalizing the review once we have access to the Wrecking Zone multiplayer mode and have spent sufficient time with it. Keep an eye out for the final review in the coming days.

It's been a long wait for Crackdown 3. Delays can be a positive thing, offering developers time to refine and polish a game. In other cases, it can result in what feels like a dated experience. At least in terms of its campaign--we don't have access to the Wrecking Zone multiplayer mode yet--Crackdown 3 firmly falls in the latter category, offering some amusement but little in the way of interesting new ideas or fun things to do. It's large and bombastic, with plenty of chaos and collateral damage, but few redeeming values--like a video game version of Man of Steel.

You play as a superpowered member of The Agency who is sent into a city to dispense justice as you systematically eliminate the comically evil members of a nefarious evil corporation. You start out relatively weak but progressively grow in power, jumping higher and gaining the ability to perform ground pounds, pick up and throw increasingly heavy objects, and so on. Enemy factions are responsible for certain aspects of the criminal operation, such as manufacturing a sort of poison, and taking them out weakens that area and makes your ultimate goal of taking down the big bad leader more feasible. There will be collateral damage along the way that is frowned upon--kill too many innocents, and a local militia puts up a halfhearted effort to put you down--but is soon forgotten. Yes, I'm describing Crackdown 3, not its 2007 progenitor.

It would be fine for this to feel so familiar if the action itself were more engaging. The core of collecting orbs (to level up your agility and jump height) and wreaking havoc remains enjoyable, but it isn't strong enough to make up for Crackdown 3's numerous shortcomings. From the moment you gain control of your character, it's hard to shake the sense that this doesn't feel like a game from 2019. Draw distance aside, the visuals are underwhelming, leaning too heavily on recreating the simple cel-shaded look of past Crackdown games. The one technological advancement the game may have to boast about--large-scale destruction, powered by Microsoft's Azure cloud servers--is reserved entirely for the online Wrecking Zone mode, which we have not yet gotten to try in the full game. There's no meaningful destruction in the campaign, and the end result is a world that feels lifeless, as if some key element of it is missing.

The game's opening takes place in a small area of the city and lays out the basic structure of your goals: Take over a particular boss's various bases to locate him or her and then complete a boss fight, which, in most cases, is a pretty standard encounter where the enemy has more health than usual. This tutorial is somewhat of an off-putting start; for a game about freedom and doing badass superhero things, you're stuck in a tightly confined area, underpowered, and tasked with a goal that entails killing some enemies and then removing a pair of batteries powering a propaganda station. Before long, the game opens up and you're given access to the full city and a wider selection of objectives to tackle, at which point there's some hope that the newfound freedom and variety will provide the excitement that's lacking in this early area.

The problem is, what you do in that opening section is representative of the entire game; there's very little variety to speak of. Ostensibly, each of the different factions presents its own unique challenges and objectives for you to complete. Yet it quickly becomes apparent that what distinguishes them are only surface-level details. No matter the faction, you're always mindlessly shooting an endless wave of foes as you work your way toward objective markers. Once you're there, you'll usually hold a button. Sometimes you'll have glowing targets to shoot. For a certain objective, you have to shoot a piece of machinery or throw a rock underneath it (always two times) to destroy it. After multiple hours of this, the action begins to bleed together. All of these bases you complete are just another box you can check off the to-do list, rather than a satisfying challenge you look forward to dealing with. I suffered a crash midway through the game that might have resulted in me losing some small amount of progress, but with how same-y many of the objectives are, I honestly wasn't sure if I was repeating one I had already completed. One of the major criticisms of the original Crackdown was a lack of things to do, and while there might be more here on paper, far too much of it feels like filler, rather than worthwhile missions.

Interesting enemies could have made these rote objectives more exciting, but they too suffer from a lack of diversity. There are different archetypes with their own attack patterns, but they do little to shake up the action, even if some do fly, have shields, rush at you, or pilot mechs. Snipers, due to the heavy damage they inflict, were the only enemies that prompted me to break from my otherwise uniform approach of attacking whatever was closest to me. Weapons have certain types of targets they're more or less effective against, but certain guns are so powerful that I found little need carefully evaluate what I was using. You move from one objective on the map to the next, hold down the trigger to lock on to enemies, hope it picks the target you want (not always a given), and then blast away.

it's just sort of a constant white noise, like you're taking a weed wacker at whatever is in front of you

And that's okay. Crackdown 3 isn't a game where you should need to carefully consider your loadout and the precise manner in which you need to approach a fight; you're supposed to be a superhero who can dominate whatever is in front of you. But the combination of stale objectives and cannon-fodder enemies makes combat mindless and, at times, even boring, which is strange for a game filled with explosions and enemies flying off of rooftops. If you were to chart the excitement of playing through the campaign, there would be few peaks or valleys; it's just sort of a constant white noise, like you're taking a weed wacker at whatever is in front of you. It's not until much further into the game that you gain the weapons (like a gun that creates black holes) and high-level abilities (like being able to pick up and throw tanks) that make combat more entertaining. By that point, the repetitive goals and encounters have long since become stale. Making your way up the skyscrapers that serve as headquarters for the final few bosses provides some of the only memorable combat sequences, but these only serve to emphasize how rote so much of the game is otherwise.

Outside of the core objectives, there is some fun to be had. Stunt rings that require you to drive a vehicle through them are an amusing challenge, even if the solution is often to rely on your transforming vehicle's ability to jump into the air. (Your Agency car can be summoned at almost any time and transforms into various forms, which is a cool concept that's spoiled by the poor driving controls that make it feel like you're riding across a sheet of ice.) Rooftop races that have you going from checkpoint to checkpoint on foot, often by leaping from one building to the next, are a thrill. Likewise, climbing puzzles that have you ascend tall structures make for a chest-pounding activity. Just be sure to do those as soon as you meet the recommended agility level designated on the map; wait too long, and the satisfying rush of landing a difficult jump is gone due to your ability to skip obstacles with massive leaps.

Co-op multiplayer improves things across the board, letting you race against a friend and engage in general shenanigans. The old Crackdown standby of picking up someone driving a car and throwing it--whether to help them reach a distant goal or simply to doom them--is a hilarious way to interact with another player, and it's nice that rooftop races can be a competitive activity. But all of this only masks the underlying problems of the game; the action is just as repetitive, and I found myself wishing my partner and I had something worth doing together. Still, co-op is easily the best way to play the campaign.

Leaping high through the air across rooftops and collecting orbs--which still feature one of the all-time great sound effects--is fun and rewarding, because that pursuit has a direct correlation to further improving your jump height. Lifting large objects and chucking them at foes is likewise an entertaining alternative to typical gunfights. Just like in its predecessors, these two superpowers are the primary source of what entertainment there is to be had in Crackdown 3. But it soon it becomes apparent that the campaign has little new to offer. It certainly delivers on letting you blow things up and jump around the city. However, a dozen years after the first Crackdown offered that same experience but failed to provide you with enough interesting content surrounding that, it's truly disappointing to see this latest iteration suffer from the very same problems.

We'll finalize this review once we have access to Wrecking Zone and have had time to put it through its paces.

Categories: Games

Far Cry New Dawn Review - Mild, Mild World

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 11:00

Spoiler alert: At the end of Far Cry 5, the United States gets nuked. Seventeen years later, the region and residents of Hope County have endured and mostly recovered from the devastation anew. The vegetation is more abundant, society has been reshaped, and there is a hell of a lot more duct tape everywhere. Everything feels new and different--well, except for that fact that there's ruthless, tyrannical oppression taking over everything and it's up to you, and basically only you, to stop it. Some things never change. That's Far Cry New Dawn--despite a few new novelties and a great mechanical twist, New Dawn feels exactly like what it is: a direct continuation of Far Cry 5.

That's not inherently a bad thing. New Dawn features the same kind of forward-thinking approach to open-world exploration and progression as Far Cry 5. While main missions are mapped out for you, the discovery of side activities like enemy outposts, treasure hunts (formerly prepper stashes), and companion recruitment missions mostly comes from your own organic exploration. Earning perk points to improve your abilities is tied to your discovery of hidden caches and diversifying the activities you undertake. New Dawn is a more concise game--the map is smaller than Far Cry 5 and there's less curated content to discover this time around--but the emphasis is still on staying out in the world and soaking up the environment.

That sense of freedom has been diminished, however. It's not the fact that you're revisiting Hope County, but rather how New Dawn sets up the pins. In Far Cry 5, you began in the middle of the map and were allowed to explore in any direction you wished; New Dawn starts you off in the bottom corner of the map and basically pushes you in a steady, linear sweep north as you slowly reclaim territory, and asks you to regularly bring resources back to your base in that starting area to bolster it.

What's to stop you from just darting ahead? Well, damage numbers. New Dawn introduces RPG elements, like damage numbers, into its design for the first time in the series. The game's guns and enemies fall into four different tiered ranks, and getting ahead requires that you go out into the world to scavenge crafting materials to upgrade your base so you can upgrade your weapons workshop and eventually craft better guns to take down the higher rank enemies impeding your progress. Outfits, armor, and defense numbers don't factor in your growth, just weapons. Guns at rank 1 and 2 will do a minimal amount of damage to well-armored rank 3 and elite rank enemies.

Early on, this can be annoying if you try to push the limits of the game in a way you're not meant to. Heading too far into the map and needing to use up hundreds of bullets to take down a rank 3 bear you encounter isn't terrifying as much as it is silly, and eventually, the demands of story missions will stop you from going too far.

But if you dial down your Far Cry 5-style expectations of freedom and go with the flow, you run into these awkward predicaments far less often. Your guns feel like they do the damage they're supposed to, and enemies feel like they have an acceptable level of resistance. In fact, once you get access to the top-tier arsenal, things will start to swing wildly in your favor--your guns will feel overpowered to the point where even shooting rank 1 enemies in the foot might be enough to take them out--which feels great when you're getting overwhelmed. Played the right way, the game's RPG-style systems basically feel invisible, and you can enjoy Far Cry's style of weighty gunplay and feel like an incredibly competent one-person army. The feeling of eventually being able to overcome New Dawn's elite enemies is good, but you're left wondering why you needed to be held back by artificial gating at all.

It doesn't help that there's no tangible sense of growth with weapons and vehicle crafting; New Dawn's selection of guns and cars isn't dramatically different enough between ranks to make the large distinction in damage output believable. Rank 1 weapons are a varied suite of handguns, rifles, and shotguns, and higher-rank arsenals are basically defined by the increasing amount of duct tape and junk on that same suite, as if that stuff has magical properties that makes the guns perform better. There are lots of guns to choose from, but if you've played Far Cry 5 you'll immediately recognize them, duct tape or no.

The one nice exception is the new Saw Launcher, which shoots circular saw blades. Higher tier versions of the weapon actually have noticeably different properties, like the ability to shoot saw blades with ricocheting, homing, and boomerang traits. It's the only weapon which truly feels like it was borne out of the post-apocalypse, improvised from scavenged parts. Aerosol cans, pipes, and spray paint might give the other guns and cars a cool look, but it doesn't change how familiar they feel.

The same can be said of the world itself. Far Cry 5's Hope County already felt a bit post-apocalyptic--the rural setting was isolated from the world thanks to antagonist Joseph Seed--so even though there are plenty of visible differences to the region, the impact of those changes isn't massive. There are a few key locations that provoke some amusement in their discovery, but the strength of Far Cry 5's Hope County was its natural environments--the forests, lakes, rivers, and mountains. The conceit that the region was re-vegetated by a super bloom after nuclear devastation means that the vibe in New Dawn is basically identical, despite dramatic increases in upended cars and graffiti. It's a pretty post-apocalypse, but it doesn't have the feeling of desperation you might associate with the theme. Scavenging for materials doesn't feel like a drastic necessity, just a way to get ahead. New Dawn doesn't feel like it takes the theme to enough of an extreme to feel meaningful or different.

The solid bones of Far Cry's combat are still here, though, and they're still very good. Taking on outposts (within your rank), whether that be via stealth or aggression, is still enjoyable, and the game encourages you to repeat them at increased difficulties to earn more resources. New Dawn also introduces seven self-contained missions called Expeditions. These are large, diverse maps set outside Hope County, and they feature setpieces like a New Orleans amusement park, an aircraft carrier, and even a Splinter Cell-themed plane crash. Expedition environments are a highlight, but the snatch-and-grab objectives mean that you're never really encouraged to stop and appreciate them--you're more concerned with getting the hell out of there as a non-stop stream of enemies comes after you.

The concise nature of the game means there's a remarkable lack of time given to the characters and plot, too. A few of the major characters feel like they could be interesting, the twin sister antagonists especially, but the few interactions you have with them are definitely not enough to develop them and make you care. While the performances have gusto, key moments of pathos just feel completely unearned. Something major happened to a key character and I was surprised how little empathy I felt. A detestable deal is made and I was mad at how little time they spent justifying it. Underdeveloped connections to characters also exacerbate the relative mundanity of the story missions compared to the game's side and open-world activities--turret sequences, bland chases, forced melee fights, and even a slow boat ride, all of which go on for way too long.

You do get a double jump, though. That is, the ability to jump in mid-air. You also get the ability to basically turn invisible and give yourself super speed and strength. The Far Cry series has always dabbled in the mystic, but yes: In a strange turn of events, New Dawn eventually says "screw it" and gives you access to superhuman powers. And the way it changes how you approach the world is undoubtedly the best thing about the game.

These sudden powers let you lean hard into superhero fantasy, allowing you to bound over fences and onto buildings, using your newfound mobility and invisibility to completely terrorize enemies like you're the Predator, or perhaps jumping high into the fray and firing off explosive arrows, pretending you're Hawkeye from The Avengers. Maybe you're more of a Wolverine, activating the berserker ability to rush an outpost at super speed and send heavily armed assailants and bears alike flying with your bare fists. A minor new mechanic lets you temporarily pick up shields from enemies and toss them like you're Captain America (supporting characters even refer to you as "Cap"), and I'm shocked they didn't do more with this--the inability to permanently keep a shield is a big disappointment.

The powers are so good that it's almost a shame they come at a point late in the game where you'll likely already be well-equipped to deal with elite rank enemies, since a few scenarios that challenge your ability to use these effectively definitely would have been a welcome addition. But as it stands, they're a fantastic expansion of Far Cry's combat vocabulary. They completely elevate your confidence to rip through everything and everyone, suddenly turning New Dawn's familiar, pedestrian experience into a raucous blast.

There's a lot of potential in the ideas seeded in New Dawn, but there isn't enough room for many of them to breathe and feel fully realized. Not the post-apocalyptic theme, not the RPG mechanics, not the weapons, vehicles, plot, or characters. Advancing through the adventure is an enjoyable experience, especially once you get your superhuman powers, but this is largely because Far Cry 5's combat and progression models remain compelling enough to propel you forward. For its part, New Dawn is a palatable but unremarkable spin-off that feels like it could have achieved so much more.

Categories: Games

Jump Force Review - A Little Too Shonen

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 05:00

Jump Force is a celebration of 50 years of Weekly Shonen Jump manga, featuring nearly four dozen fighters from 16 of the magazine's most iconic stories. Bandai Namco's arena tag-team fighting game borrows plenty of elements from its source materials, for better and worse. Although Jump Force's campaign story drags on for way too long and ignores what could have been interesting character interactions in favor of repeated excuses for everyone to punch the crap out of each other, its combat is an enjoyable dance between two teams of fighters--thanks to the game's excellent mechanics and flashy visuals.

In Jump Force, you're an ordinary human who's caught up in a warzone when the Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto universes collide into our world and bring their assortment of heroes and villains with them. After being mortally wounded by Frieza, you're resurrected as a hero capable of learning the powers, skills, and abilities of Shonen Jump's characters, and you decide to join Goku, Luffy, and Naruto's Jump Force of allies in order to fix everyone's broken world. What follows is a fairly stereotypical shonen affair, with your character growing stronger over time, enemies and friends switching sides, and a mysterious evil working behind the scenes. Like most fighting games, there's not a single problem you don't ultimately just fix with your fists, from deciding team leader to knocking sense into those who have been corrupted by the same evil forces responsible for everyone's worlds colliding with one another.

There's a decent story in Jump Force, but it's buried beneath a second act that goes on for far too long. After getting acquainted with your new allies, the game tasks you with responding to threats around the globe, as well as the recruitment of any additional heroes who've managed to stumble into our world from their respective universes. Character models during cutscenes are all rather cookie-cutter, as everyone stands in the same position throughout the story, only stiffly moving their mouths and occasionally blinking. The actual story moves with the same awkwardly slow pace, and it doesn't explain what's going on with everyone's worlds or what the villains' motivations are until the third act, so you play through most of the game without any idea as to what you're really fighting against. Not being able to skip cutscenes is also rather annoying, as exiting out of a mission for any reason--such as buying more items to use in combat--has you watch the same 40- to 90-second scene again.

There are brief snippets where you can see how a side story might have helped flesh out the characters, which in turn could have been a good incentive to keep pushing forward through the campaign. For example, Boruto recognizes a sadness behind the eyes of My Hero Academia's Midoriya and confides with the young hero that he knows how hard it is to live up to the ideal of father figures. But the game breezes past moments like this in order to get to the next fight.

Thankfully, those fights are a blast to play. Every combatant comes equipped with an assortment of attacks, blocks, grabs, counters, and dodges that operate in a rock-paper-scissors system. Combat is fairly accessible, and it doesn't take long to understand how the basic mechanics work. However, with over 40 playable fighters, it takes time to get a handle on the entire roster's assortment of strengths and weaknesses, giving you plenty of reason to keep playing. Each fighter has four distinct and unique special attacks as well. Even though these special moves can be broken down into one of seven different types--short-range, dashing, counter, area-of-effect, long-range, shield, or buff--each fighter handles quite differently. If you've read the manga that these characters come from, you already have a fairly good idea as to what most of these iconic moves are and how they behave, but you'll still have to practice with each fighter to get a grasp of what every move can do.

Every attack, basic or advanced, can be avoided in some way--whether via blocking, dodging, or countering--so most fights are tense, with each side looking for a way to bait their foe into opening themselves up for attack without putting themselves at a disadvantage. I've had fights where, after 30 seconds of back-and-forth, both sides are one strike away from defeat, and the battle continues for another full minute of counters, perfect dodges, and last-second blocks. It's empowering to finish off your foe with a perfectly executed combo or snag a victory when all hope seems lost. Each win feels like it needs to be earned, and this encourages you to explore the varied movesets of each fighter, experiment in how attacks might be chained together, and deduce your go-to characters' weaknesses in order to avoid defeat.

This is especially true in regards to the campaign, as you're allowed to customize your character with any four special abilities you want. You can also choose your character's gender, body type, voice, and skin tone, as well as dress them with an assortment of hairstyles, make-up, jewelry, and clothes, allowing you to build your perfect protagonist. Completing campaign missions earns you in-game currency, which you can use to buy new outfits and items. Cosmetics won't affect your character, but it's still fun to put together outfits and it's a welcome distraction when you need a moment to step away from the steep challenge of the late-game battles.

Once you're done with Jump Force's campaign, there's still plenty to do--even if not all of it is worthwhile. Free Missions are the game's version of a challenge mode, but it's not all that different from the handicaps placed on you in late-game story missions. The same can be said for Extra Missions mode, which you can play if you need a little extra in-game cash for that smokin' pair of black pants you've been eyeing for your character or if you want to expand your level cap.

However, a lot of fun can be had in Jump Force's competitive modes. You can play online or off, with both friendly and ranked matches in the former. Online is where your skills will be put to the test, meaning it's also where you'll find the game's best fights. Jump Force also allows you to practice against a computer while you wait for the game to find you an opponent, so you're not just waiting on a loading screen, which is a welcome touch. Ranked Play provides the most challenging combat in Jump Force by far, but earning higher titles--and thus bragging rights--by defeating more skilled opponents is a compelling goal to work towards.

Each win feels like it needs to be earned, and this encourages you to explore the varied movesets of each fighter.

It's awesome to see Jump Force's roster of playable fighters include so many characters from Shonen Jump's history, even the ones from manga that aren't as mainstream but no less important, like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Saint Seiya. That said, there's a disappointing disparity in the number of male and female characters, especially when Dragon Ball, One Piece, and Naruto contribute to nearly half the roster and only have two women between all three of them. Shonen Jump has always been geared towards young boys, but that doesn't mean its manga hasn't had great female fighters. Including Dragon Ball's Piccolo over Android 18 and Naruto's Gaara over both Sakura and Hinata is odd, as is leaving out Black Clover's Noelle, Yu-Gi-Oh's Anzu, My Hero Academia's Uraraka, and Boruto's Sarada.

Jump Force is a worthy celebration of the legacy of Shonen Jump manga, but it honors its source material a little too well with how filler-heavy the middle of its story arc is. However, even if the game rarely provides a clear motivation for stopping evil other than good must always oppose it, the act of stomping out villains in Jump Force's frantic bouts of tag-team arena combat is an enjoyable test of strategy. And with over 40 characters to master, there's ample opportunity to develop new strategies and reach greater feats of combat prowess in online multiplayer.

Categories: Games

Hot Summer Night

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 01:20
Publisher: 505 Games Developer: ArtPlay Release: 2019 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night got its first Switch footage during today's Nintendo Direct, but it was also the first time the game got a narrowed down release date beyond just a year. Now it's been confirmed that Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will release in Summer 2019.

In addition, a trailer for the game has also been released to coincide with the date announcement.

Click here to watch embedded media

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night will released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC this summer.

Categories: Games

Dragon Quest XI Comes To Switch This Fall

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 22:14
Publisher: Square Enix Developer: Square Enix, Armor Project Release: September 4, 2018 Rating: Rating Pending Platform: PlayStation 4, PC

Coming this fall, Square Enix's Dragon Quest XI will be making it's way to the Switch. In addition to arriving on Nintendo's console, it will also feature several new upgrades. 

It will allow you to switch on the fly between the 3D visuals and the 2D, 16-bit visuals that would play on the bottom screen of the Japanese-exclusive 3DS version. You will be able to toggle between the English and Japanese voice acting, it will feature fully orchestrated field and battle music this time out, and it will additionally have stories focused on each of the game's playable characters that were absent from the PS4 and PC release.

Dragon Quest XI was initially announced for the Switch, but this version was postponed. A little over a year after it's release on other platforms it will finally arrive as Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition.

Categories: Games

Captain Marvel Joins Roster For Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3, Out This Summer

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 22:01

The star of the next major Marvel film, Captain Marvel, is joining the roster of Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order, which is also not that far away.

Carol Danvers is a major part of the latest trailer for the game, which outlines some of the additions and feature of this entry. Along with learning new skills as they level up, there are new co-op Synergy Attacks, as well as what are called "Alliance Extreme Attacks," which act as a kind of super ability. You can combine those supers as well, into "Ultimate Alliance Extreme Attacks." 

The Nintendo Direct stream in which the trailer premiered also announced a tentative season for the game's release: Summer. You can watch the trailer below.

Click here to watch embedded media

Categories: Games

Apex Legends Valentine's Day Update Encourages Loving Your Team

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 20:45
Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: Respawn Entertainment Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Apex Legends has not been out long, but the game has already gotten its first update wrapped up in a neat little Valentine's Day theme. No one has to be lonely when you're in a three-person squad climbing your way to the top of the battle royale!

The patch notes, which were posted today on Reddit, don't name a lot of changes, but there are a few for new updates for the season. There are two new cosmetic items to earn to follow the Valentine's Day theme, including the “Through the Heart” Longbow Epic DMR skin and the "Love of the Game" Pathfinder banner frame.

Additionally, a new badge has been added for players to get from now until later next week. Starting today, if you revive a player on your team, you'll get a "Live Die Live" badge. You only have until February 19 to do so, so make sure you show one of your teammates that they're your special Valentine.

The non-Valentines parts of the patch mostly affect balance and stability. Respawn has tried to respond to feedback about crashes, server issues, and friends list errors in the last week. Bloodhound's special ability, Eye of the Allfather, now lasts for one second less than it did before.

With the game hitting a playerbase of around 25 million accounts, I wonder what the studio is going to do for the first major update of the game. Apex Legends is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

Categories: Games

The Wildest Weapons In The Outer Worlds

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 02/13/2019 - 18:00

Publisher: Private Division Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Release: 2019 Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

The Outer Worlds isn’t exactly a serious or believable game, but it generally adheres to its own internal logic. Except when it comes to science weapons. These unique items are difficult to find, but thorough explorers who amass a collection of them are treated to a variety of outlandish and entertaining effects. During our time at Obsidian Entertainment, we talked to the team in detail about one of these weapons – the shrink ray – and about how the science weapons in general are implemented in The Outer Worlds.

The Shrink Ray
According to co-director Tim Cain, science weapons are designed to have “inexplicable effects that we thought would be funny, and we didn’t care in any way if they were realistic.” The shrink ray is a perfect example of this philosophy: It collapses the space between atoms, causing creatures hit by its continuous beam to grow smaller (and stay that way as long as the beam remains focused on them).

The concept came from an unexpected place: huge monsters. Out in the wilderness of The Outer Worlds, you may encounter “mega-fauna,” which are especially large versions of specific creature types. Visually, these beasts are scaled up from their regular counterparts – but the technology that produces that effect goes in both directions.

Click image thumbnails to view larger version



“The scaling can be used for a lot more than what the artists were using it for,” Cain says. “The artists didn’t want to use extreme values on it, because then things can’t move around, then can’t get through doors.” So what happens when you experiment with those extreme values in the form of a handheld gun? A shrink ray.

In addition to making enemies very small, the shrink ray also increases the pitch of their sound effects and deals a small amount of damage. But the more practical benefit comes from reducing their damage threshold; in other words, enemies that are normally resistant to damage are much more susceptible to it the smaller they get.

“It changes effectiveness based on your science skill,” says lead designer Charles Staples. “As you gain a higher science skill, it shrinks them more. It reduces their damage threshold more.”

You might assume that an effect that powerful will not work on more powerful foes – that they might have immunities to shrink ray. That assumption is incorrect. If you want to use it on one of the formidable mega-fauna, go for it; you get what Cain refers to as a “mini-mega.” But what about the final boss? “Right now, yes,” Staples says. “But then it will just be a matter of making it balanced enough where it still feels like a meaningful end to the game for most players.”

What Can Other Science Weapons Do?
The team at Obsidian isn’t currently sharing any specific of science weapons beyond the shrink ray. However, we do know that one of the melee options is internally referred to as “the Ugly Stick,” so that hints at some interesting effects. We also know that the threshold for craziness is pretty high – you can’t just add some goofy ammo and make the cut. “We had one science weapon that didn’t go far enough, and now it’s a regular weapon in the game,” Cain says. “The Force Ultimatum. It was originally going to be a science weapon because it shot out bouncing fireballs. It’s fun! But it’s not crazy enough.”

How Do You Get Them?
Explore. Finish optional tasks. Go looking for trouble. Some science weapons are easier to find than others, but most of them aren’t handed to you through the course of the main campaign. “They’re a little rarer,” says lead designer Charles Staples. “They’re off the beaten path sometimes. But if you’re exploring, these are some pretty big rewards for finding those side quests.”

Who Should Use Them?
Normally, a weapon’s effectiveness is based on your character’s proficiency with its category – handguns, for example. But because science weapons draw from your science skill instead, traditionally combat-focused builds won’t get the most out them. ““These are designed by scientists, for scientists,” Cain says. “Because we were worried, like, ‘are they going to be able to hold their own in combat with science, engineering, and medical [skills]? What are they going to do in combat?’ Well, they find weapons like this.”

Alternately, you can give science weapons to your companions. In that case, you have less control, because you're at the mercy of your allies' whims in terms when/how they actually use the weapons. But if your own science skill is abysmal, this might be a more efficient way to deploy them.  

Where Do They Come From?
Corporations are powerful in The Outer Worlds, and they like to put their logos and/or slogans on almost anything. “Everything else is branded, but the science weapons, not so much,” Staples says. “They’re sort of one-offs, and they’re not branded.” There’s a single exception to this. One weapon was made by a (currently unspecified) company as a prototype, but it proved too expensive to mass-produce – so it was hidden instead.

Can You Improve Them?
Yes. In addition to increasing your science skill to improve effects, you can also tinker with the science weapons (and other things). “Every item has a level, and if you tinker with it, you can make that level go up, and it makes its damage slightly increase,” Cain says. “So, scientists will almost certainly want to tinker with theirs and raise the level. These are just designed to make that sort of character super fun. So if you want to play Spaceman Spiff, we’ve got everything set up for you.”

How Many Are There?
Current plans include five science weapons – one for each category of weapon. Those categories are: light melee, heavy melee, handgun (this one is the shrink ray), long gun, and heavy gun. However, players may see more down the line. “If these turn out to be popular, we could easily put additional ones out as DLC, so instead of one of every category, maybe we’d have two or three,” Cain says. But at release, be on the lookout for those core five.

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Categories: Games