Games

How Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands Changes The Borderlands Game

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 18:30

Publisher: 2K Games Developer: Gearbox Software Release: March 25, 2022 Rating: Teen Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Sure, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands might be a first-person looter shooter that features a few familiar faces from the existing Borderlands universe. However, the wild ride that examines the formula with a tabletop role-playing game lens has a lot of different components going into the mix, and it’s attempting to distinguish itself from the known template while still maintaining some of that raucous flavor.

I mean, the Dungeon Master is Tiny Tina, after all, meaning chaos is an integral component of the entire experience, and she might not be content to follow the rulebook or module designs. We had a chat with creative director Matt Cox and senior producer Kayla Belmore about the latest trailer to hit and how Tiny Tina’s grandiose fantasy visions come to life in the upcoming game. And by grandiose visions, I mean that Butt Stallion is part of the story, somehow. Hunh.

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So how will stats work? Will you be running maximum charisma? Dumping points in strength? Just how much tabletop DNA is going into this? The answer is a lot.

“So we do have fantasy elements like spells and multiclassing, you can choose your initial class and then later on, in the main questline, you get to choose the secondary class to actually multiclass,” says Cox. “So you can mix and match a lot of the elements that come along with just the class selection and of itself. So in addition to we also have melee weapons, armor with specific stats that can speak to your build, but also we do have, in addition to skill points, we do have hero points that do speak to kind of that more classic tabletop attributes that you're talking about strength. We have strength, intelligence, dexterity, and those sorts of things so much like creating your own character in a tabletop fantasy game.”

There are six core classes to choose from, and while they have not been revealed yet, you can assume some core fantasy archetypes make an appearance.

In addition, an “overworld” game board where your characters are represented by little bobblehead versions of themselves lets players pick their destinations through the land, emulating the look and feel of a tabletop gameboard. 

“So one thing that's super fun is your character representation and all of the customizations that you've done actually appear in the overworld,” says Belmore. “And because the overworld is third-person, you can see all players on the map when you're playing together.”

Of important note for those would-be ax swinging barbarians and knights among you: while melee attacks will be important, dedicated melee builds are probably not going to be a thing outside of some odd builds and legendary items. Instead, melee can easily be integrated into your combat flow via perks, skills, or status effects that for instance might supercharge various other attacks for landing a successful melee attack or hyperpower up a single melee blow after you’ve completed some other requirement, encouraging you to move in and out of combat in a varied loop of ranged, melee, and spell/ability usage for optimum performance.

“When in doubt, guns are still stars of the show and there's something truly satisfying about just riddling things with crossbow bolts from a regular handgun,” says Belmore. “It's just kind of amazing.” 

And yes, you’ll still have an “ultimate” skill to utilize when things get too frantic to handle, with two to pick from on each class.

Spells add another layer to things, with a variety of different usages and designations. It’s not just going to be casting big fireballs at foes, but instead, there’s a huge bucket of various spells to draw upon and books to find, including self-casting powers.

There’s a core campaign to tackle, but numerous side missions are available for those looking to get their characters beefed up to tackle goblins with guns. “We've got the main plot maps of course. But there are entire maps on the side that almost play like modules that have a standalone plotline that is connected to the main story, but not all the way into the main story. They're kind of these fun little side missions that feel a lot like a tabletop module that’s on top of the greater mission.”

Of course, these expeditions into dark forests, dank caves, and creepy castles aren’t the only places you’re hanging out. No, we need a hub to deck our characters out and engage in all kinds of progression systems! A tavern (a soda tavern) serves as one of the central areas of Brighthoof, the city where players will be hanging out when they’re not massacring monsters and causing mayhem.

Obviously, it wouldn’t make sense to have things by engineering manufacturers here as we’re talking about spells and swords, but yes gear is branded by the folks who create them, placing each piece of gear into a similar system as we’ve seen in other games such as Dahl, Jakobs, Hyperion, etc.

And what’s a tabletop RPG without rolling dice? Events known as lucky challenges will let you roll that d20 right then and there and try to hit that big number to shower you with piles and piles of potent loot.

“Lucky dice are scattered throughout the world,” says Cox. “And so if you find them, it'll actually roll in front of you and like pop out what number you get, and that will correspond to how good the loot is, you get out of that lucky dice.”

While we certainly aren’t even close to knowing all the ingredients that are going into this chaotic cake, more details are inevitably on the way as we inch closer to the March 25, 2022 release date. Are you looking forward to Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands? Let us know in the comments, and may all your 20s be natural. 

Categories: Games

Kena: Bridge Of Spirits Review - Don't Fear The Reaper

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 09/21/2021 - 12:23

In Kena: Bridge of Spirits, everyday items are imbued with new, unseen emotional significance. A wooden mask is a link to the spirit of the person for whom it was made. Objects like a construction hammer or a box filled with food are tied to memories of people who have been lost. Locations that were once the sites of vibrant and happy times are scarred with the pain and trauma suffered within them.

Looking at common things with new eyes is a running theme of Kena, and that theme often applies to its gameplay as well. Though the game is filled with some fairly common action-adventure genre tropes--it has melee combat that feels akin to titles such as Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order or even Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, climbing sections similar to Uncharted or Tomb Raider, platforming that recalls games such as Ratchet and Clank, and puzzles like what you might see in The Legend of Zelda--it manages to combine a familiar approachability with some fresh spins on the ideas. Combined with emotional, character-driven storytelling, some tough-but-excellent fights, and mechanics that make the world feel alive around you, Kena is an exciting, often heartbreaking journey that will make you want to explore every corner and crevice to see all that you can.

Gallery

The story and world of Kena: Bridge of Spirits center on a village beset by tragedy. Its inhabitants are all gone, wiped out by misfortune, and their pain has physically poisoned the once-vibrant land around it. That pain has drawn Kena, a young spirit guide, to seek out the trauma at its center and heal it. Her link to the spirit realm allows her to help the ghosts of the village find peace, and in so doing, she's able to push back the corruption that has gripped the land, restoring it to its former glory.

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Categories: Games

Everything We Know About Metroid Dread

Game Informer News Feed - Mon, 09/20/2021 - 23:00

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Publisher: Nintendo Developer: MercurySteam Release: October 8, 2021 Rating: Teen Platform: Switch

Metroid might not have the widespread popularity of Zelda or Mario, but our enthusiasm for Nintendo's sci-fi action platformer rivals those blockbusters. Nintendo announced Dread only a few months ago, during the company's E3 2021 Direct presentation. Now we're less than a month from its October 8 release, so here is a quick overview of everything you need to know before playing Metroid Dread.

Who is the developer?

Metroid Dread is being made at MercurySteam, a studio that Nintendo previously worked with on 2017's Metroid: Samus Returns. Before that, MercurySteam developed Clive Barker's Jericho, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, and Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2. The studio has a solid track record with a few exceptions, so we're hopeful that Metroid Dread will live up to the hype.

Is this a direct sequel?

Nintendo has billed Dread as a direct sequel to the 2002 title Metroid Fusion, released initially on the Game Boy Advance, making Dread the fifth official entry in the 2D Metroid series. Nintendo also said this title concludes the main storyline focused on Samus' interactions with a parasitic race of creatures called Metroid.

Do I need to play the rest of the series before I play Dread?

Metroid has never been a story-heavy series, and we're sure Nintendo will bring players up to speed on any crucial details they need to know as they play this game, but you probably don't need to play the earlier Metroid games to enjoy Dread. That said, many of the earlier Metroid games are still enjoyable today (especially Super Metroid), so it's worth going back and checking out those titles if you missed them the first time around.

How long has this game been in development?

The name Metroid Dread first surfaced not long after the release of Metroid Fusion in 2002. Series producer Yoshio Sakamoto has said that he tried to develop Dread for the Nintendo DS handheld at least twice. After MercurySteam released Metroid: Samus Returns in 2017, Nintendo revived the Dread name and greenlit the project for the Switch.

What's the narrative setup?

Bounty Hunter Samus Aran is back. In Metroid Fusion, Samus explored a space station swarming with hostile, shape-shifting organisms called X Parasites. After Samus dealt with that potential catastrophe, the Galactic Federation received proof that suggests the X Parasites survived destruction and are now infecting the remote planet of ZDR. In response, the Federation dispatched a team of robots to investigate the world. But when those units vanish soon after arrival, Samus Aran is tapped to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Thanks to the events of Metroid Fusion, Samus has immunity against the X Parasites. Unfortunately, X Parasites aren't the only threat on ZDR, and Samus soon encounters a member of the ancient alien race, called Chozo, who attacks Samus and steals her abilities. When Samus awakens from this attack, she discovers she is deep beneath the surface of ZDR and must work her way back out while contending with the team of Federation robots now hunting her.

What do we know about Planet ZDR?

Not much is know about Planet ZDR. This remote alien world has a purple atmosphere and is home to a large, fang-toothed monster known as the Corpious. The Corpious has no legs and drags itself overland with two muscular arms. The beast can also turn invisible and attacks foes with a long, scorpion-like tail.

ZDR's deep underground caverns, an area labeled Artaria, are full of rocky outcroppings and underground waterfalls. Cataris is another zone within planet ZDR, and this area is an industrial station used to transport thermo-powered energy from surrounding magma reserves. The extreme heat in this zone can damage Samus' equipment until she gains a Power Suit.

Will Adam Malkovich return?

Longtime fans may remember Commander Adam Malkovich, a "celebrated military genius" who served in the Galactic Federation Army. When Samus was younger, she served under Malkovich, as detailed in Metroid: Other M. Samus also reflected on Adam a few times during her adventure in Metroid Fusion and even named a computer A.I. after him. The AI version of Adam returns in Dread, but he won't order Samus around. Instead, this A.I. functions as the game's loremaster, so it is more a means to dish story details to the player.

What are the E.M.M.I.s?

The Galactic Federation's Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifiers are high-tech operations robots created for "research applications." However, these E.M.M.I.s are also potent tools of destruction. The E.M.M.I.s were designed to be DNA-extracting machines, and they now hound Samus across Planet ZDR, likely because Samus has some Metroid DNA.

The E.M.M.I.s are not easily destroyed. In fact, Samus can only dismantle them if she temporarily upgrades her arm cannon at set locations on Planet ZDR. As a result, Samus must sneak past these machines. This is no easy feat because E.M.M.I.s can hear Samus' footsteps and relentlessly chase her down if they catch wind of her presence. When an E.M.M.I. grabs Samus, players have a tiny window to perform a melee counter, which gives Samus a chance to escape. If players fail this counter, the E.M.M.I.s instantly impale her, resulting in a Game Over.

The Galactic Federation dispatched seven E.M.M.I.s to Planet ZDR, and each one is a different color. E.M.M.I.s have different abilities. For example, the green E.M.M.I. can crawl through tight passages, yellow can run at high speeds, and blue can freeze and shatter objects.

What abilities does Samus gain?

Metroid has always been a series focused on exploration. As Samus probes the depths of Planet ZDR, she slowly uncovers new weapons and abilities that give her access to new areas. This loop has always been at the heart of Metroid, and that won't change with Dread.

Samus retains access to many of her staple abilities, such as her arm cannon, missiles, grapple hook, and the morph ball that allows her to access out-of-reach areas. In Metroid: Samus Returns, MercurySteam introduced a melee counter that lets Samus parry enemy attacks, exposing them to brutal counterattacks. This technique returns for Dread. However, Samus also has a few new moves, such as a slide that allows her to quickly slip through tiny spaces without transforming into her morph ball.

During Samus' adventure, she also gains access to powerful new tech and weapons. A Phantom Cloak ability temporarily renders Samus invisible. However, this power drains a resource called Aeion, which was also introduced in Samus Returns. Unlike the last game, Aeion now slowly replenishes over time. Another Aeion ability called Flash Shift allows Samus to dash across the screen.

Not every power requires Aeion. For example, the Spider grapple helps Samus climb walls and ceilings marked with a blue, magnetic surface. This is similar to the Spider Ball from previous Metroid titles; however, it doesn't require that Samus enter her morph ball form. Meanwhile, a weapon upgrade called Storm Missile lets Samus lock on and fire a volley of missiles at multiple targets. Samus can lock onto up to five targets using her free aim, shooting three missiles at each target.

Will longtime enemies Kraid and Ridley return?

The giant three-eyed reptilian known as Kraid is reported to return, but the alien appears chained to a wall this time. We haven't heard if Ridley will make an appearance, but this is a Metroid game, so our Magic 8-Ball says "Very likely."

I like spending money, is there a Special Edition?

Nintendo is producing a Metroid Dread Special Edition, which comes in a steel game case, and includes five art cards and a 190-page art book spanning all five entries in the 2D Metroid saga. This package retails for $89.99.

When does Metroid Dread launch?

You will be able to purchase Metroid Dread for the Nintendo Switch, starting on October 8.

Categories: Games

Lost Judgment Review -- Back To School

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 09/16/2021 - 14:00

Like most good detective stories, Lost Judgment begins with the ghastly discovery of a maggot-infested corpse. A single homicide is merely the tip of the iceberg, of course, but the unusual circumstances surrounding the dead body's discovery set the stage for another compelling mystery for private investigator Takayuki Yagami to solve. The first Judgment began in a similar fashion, presenting itself as a Yakuza spin-off that was nevertheless overly familiar due to its penchant for delving into the criminal theatrics Rya ga Gotoku Studio is known for. Yagami's latest adventure still dips its feet into the deep end of the criminal underworld, but Lost Judgment distances itself from its Yakuza-flavored origins with much more regularity than its predecessor, resulting in a better and more distinct game that's still tinged with an overt sense of deja vu.

This begins right from the off, as the first hour or so is spent traversing the well-worn streets of Kamurocho. Revisiting the bustling red-light district for the umpteenth time still doesn't grow stale thanks to its lively atmosphere and intricate visual design. It's a place full of fond memories and there's a pleasant sense of comfort in its familiarity, yet it's hard not to feel relieved when Yagami's latest case takes you south of Tokyo and into the port city of Yokohama. The fictional district of Isezaki Ijincho was first introduced in last year's Yakuza: Like a Dragon and makes its return in Lost Judgment relatively untouched. Based on the real-life Yokohama district of Isezakichō, it's a bigger urban sprawl than Kamurocho but still maintains the same density, from the busy streets of Isezaki Road to the various storefronts and eateries located throughout the district.

Step through the automatic doors of a Poppo store and you'll be greeted by a short electronic tune that announces your arrival. The magazine aisle is stacked with lifestyle magazines, manga, and cookbooks, while the refrigerators at the back of the store are filled with assorted snacks, from onigiri and Bento lunch sets to a dizzying array of drinks including Suntory green tea and BOSS coffee. Elsewhere, you can head to the bar district to find each cozy hangout stocked with real-world alcohol, while passing beneath the Paifang in Chinatown will lead you to restaurants adorned with dragons and golden guardian lions, as residents converse under a baroque pavilion.

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Categories: Games

Everything We Know About Kena: Bridge Of Spirits

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 20:03

Publisher: Ember Lab Developer: Ember Lab Release: September 21, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, PC

After a couple of delays, Kena: Bridge of Spirits finally launches next week, September 21. It’s been a long time coming for the whimsical game, which was initially revealed alongside the PlayStation 5 and positioned to launch alongside it. We featured the title on our cover, but we’d forgive you if your memory has become hazy. Fear not, this handy primer should catch you up on the main beats if you're still on the fence about whether or not Kena's adventure is for you. 

Who Is Making Kena: Bridge of Spirits?

Kena is the debut title by Ember Lab, a small studio founded in 2009 by brothers Mike and Josh Grier. The company primarily specializes in creating animated content for conglomerates such as Coca-Cola, MLB, and KFC. Perhaps the studio's most famous work is an animated short film based on The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask that went viral in 2016. With Kena, the studio is applying its animation and world-building chops to game development for the first time. 

Who Is Kena?

Kena (pronounced “kay-na”) is a young spirit guide and the hero of the adventure. She’s responsible for helping troubled spirits transition peacefully into the afterlife. When someone dies with unresolved problems or traumas, their spirit can become trapped between the realms of the living and the dead. Lingering ghosts may cause trouble for living people, so Kena helps solve whatever issues they have to ensure a pleasant trip to the next life. Kena is also the only person capable of cleansing an all-consuming blight that gradually overtakes the world.

What's The Story?

Believe it or not, we still don’t know a ton about Kena’s plot outside of its setup. Kena travels to an abandoned village far from her homeland in search of a sacred mountain shrine. The surrounding land is suffering from a mysterious curse that turns corrupted spirits into dangerous monstrosities. She’s the only one who can cure it and sets out to do just that.  

What Kind Of Game Is It? 

Kena is a third-person action-adventure game. Combat involves executing basic melee combos of light and heavy attacks using Kena’s magic staff. She can also turn her staff into a spirit bow for a ranged offense. Kena also boasts an arsenal of spirit abilities, such as the pulse bubble that can parry incoming attacks, and she can conjure a spirit dragon to provide extra combat muscle. Outside of battle, players climb, shimmy, and similarly jump around their surroundings to the Uncharted series while also solving environmental puzzles to access new areas. Kena can also use her powers to purify paths blocked by corrupted growth. You'll also help restless souls find peace by curing whatever ails them while gradually rebuilding and repopulating the abandoned village, which serves as your hub area. 

Is Kena Set In A Big Open-World? 

Nope. Former Game Informer editor Jeff Cork best summarized Kena’s world design as “wide linear” in our cover story. You’ll follow a clear critical path but can branch off to explore alternate routes that may lead to goodies such as hidden Rot. 

Rot? What Are They? 

The Rot are the other stars of the game. They’re tiny adorable creatures responsible for decomposition, breaking down decaying materials to make way for new life. Thus, they compliment Kena’s job in maintaining the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. When Kena bonds with these critters, they’ll tag along to assist with combat and puzzle-solving. In battle, the Rot are too shy to lend an immediate helping hand, but successively landing attacks fills a meter indicating Rot courage. Once full, players can call upon the Rot to augment their attacks to dish out more potent forms of offense. You can also send the Rot to distract enemies, forcing them to drop their defenses to provide windows of attack. 

Up to 100 Rot can be obtained, with 60 of them being optional. You’ll find Rot hiding under rocks, inside of hanging fruits, and other nooks and crannies. The more Rot you have, the more powerful your attacks become and the more helping hands you have outside of battle. You can even personalize the Rot by purchasing a variety of cute hats for them to wear.

Hats? Does That Mean Microtransactions?

There are no microtransactions in Kena: Bridge of Spirits. You buy items from vendors using in-game currency. 

Can The Rot Die?

No, thankfully. While the Rot share gameplay similarities to Pikmin, these little guys aren’t nearly as fragile, so you don’t have to worry about losing your cute companions in battle. Feel free to throw them at as many monsters as you see fit! 

How Long Is Kena And How Much Does It Cost?

Ember Labs has stated that Kena takes between 8-10 hours to finish and closer to 12 hours for completionists. The budget price reflects that scope at $39.99 across all platforms. There’s also a $49.99 Deluxe Edition. 

What Platforms Is Kena Available On? 

Kena: Bridge of Spirits is coming to PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and PC via the Epic Games Store. It is a digital-only game, but Ember Lab has suggested it may get a physical release down the road. 

What Are The Differences Between PS5 And PS4?

We haven’t seen footage of the game running on PS4, but we know that on PS5, you’ll see more Rot represented on screen, and foliage appears denser. The DualSense controller’s haptic feedback creates realistic tension when pulling back on the bowstring as well as other sensory features. 

You can read more stories chock full of info about Kena: Bridge of Spirits by visiting our exclusive cover story hub

Categories: Games

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 17:00

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Publisher: Sega Developer: Ryu Ga Gotoku Studios Release: October 5, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC

In recent years, Sega and Atlus have fully embraced the remaster market. In the last few years alone, the company has brought forward enhanced or remade versions of entries in the Yakuza, Sonic the Hedgehog, Shin Megami Tensei, and the Super Monkey Ball franchise. Unfortunately, the first Super Monkey Ball remaster came in the form of 2019's Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD, a re-release of one of the less popular entries in the series. Sega must have heard the complaints of the fan base because, with Super Monkey Ball Banana Blitz, the publisher compiles the beloved first three games into one modernized experience. 

Join Alex Stadnik, John Carson, and me as we dive into some early-game stages of Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. While we exclusively play through the story mode in this video, the package also includes several other destination modes, including a collection of the series' popular party games. Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania also includes unlockable characters from Sega's library of games. Stick around until the end of the video to see us bust out Sonic as we attack one of the earlier Super Monkey Ball stages.  

If you enjoyed this look at Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania, be sure to subscribe to the Game Informer YouTube channel so you don't miss all of our other content we put out each and every day. If you're interested in seeing the latest footage of upcoming games, be sure to check out other episodes of New Gameplay Today here or by clicking the banner below. As always, be sure to leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts on Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania. 

Super Monkey Ball Banana Mania hits PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC on October 5. 

Categories: Games

Toem Review: Look At This Photograph

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/15/2021 - 14:43

Toem begins when your nana gifts you a camera as you head off to see the "Toem" phenomenon. She nearly shows you her own photo from when she did the same thing at your age, but hastily hides it. Seeing the Toem phenomenon is presented as a rite of passage, and something you really just need to experience for yourself. She never describes exactly what Toem is, just that it's spectacular and life-changing. But maybe what she's really remembering is the journey to see it.

Most of Toem is essentially a series of photo puzzles. When you first journey away from home, you learn that you can collect stamps on your community card by performing acts of kindness for townspeople (which almost always involve a camera, somehow) or fulfilling photo challenges. You might be asked to find a cartoonishly shady character hanging around town, or to point a lighthouse keeper in the direction of boats that need help using your zoom lens. Collecting enough stamps gets you a free bus pass to the next area. It's a simple, clever construct that creates a broad space for different types of puzzle challenges.

All of this is presented in a stark black-and-white style that feels boldly minimalist. The view is isometric in a way that often limits your ability to see all of your surroundings, so you'll look from behind the camera lens to get a better view of things. The interplay between these views is constant, and despite a sparse visual style and monochrome presentation, it never feels confusing. Everything is perfectly readable in both views, which is a testament to the strength of the art design.

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Categories: Games

Toem - New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 20:35

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Publisher: Something We Made Developer: Something We Made Release: September 17, 2021 Platform: PlayStation 5, Switch, PC

Photography games are among my favorite sort of adventure video games. As someone who makes their living working with cameras daily, I feel compelled to play them whenever there's a new release; Toem is the latest entry in this wonderful little subgenre. The hand-drawn indie game releases later this week and features exploration, photo challenges, light puzzle-solving, and a memorable soundtrack that makes it worth playing. Join Jill Grodt, John Carson, and me as we go hands-on with the charming adventure game in this episode of New Gameplay Today!

Something We Made, the studio developing Toem, further describes the activities that players can participate in via the game's official website:

Set off on a delightful expedition and use your photographic eye to uncover the mysteries of the magical TOEM in this hand-drawn adventure game. Chat with quirky characters, solve their problems by snapping neat photos, and make your way through a relaxing landscape! 

If you enjoyed this early look at Toem, be sure to subscribe to the Game Informer YouTube channel so that you don't miss future videos. Interested in seeing the latest footage of upcoming games? Check out other episodes of New Gameplay Today here. As always, leave a comment down below, letting us know if you're excited to play Toem. There are a bunch of other upcoming photography-based games, so read our list of the coolest photo-taking games you can play right now and on the horizon. 

Categories: Games

Answers To Our Biggest Questions NHL 22 Questions

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 17:30

Publisher: Electronic Arts Developer: EA Vancouver Release: October 15, 2021 Rating: Everyone 10+ Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

In just about a month’s time, hockey will be back in full force, both if you’re watching the puck drop on your TV or strapping on the skates in NHL 22. This year, EA Vancouver is calling on its elite talent to be the difference-makers, introducing Superstar X-Factors, which provide special skills and moves to the best of the best. This will impact the game by forcing you to anticipate these players’ abilities every time they hit the ice, and they’ll be present in every major game mode. To learn more about this feature and how it’s taking NHL 22 to new places, we sat down with producer Clement Kwong, who also answered some of our other bigger questions about the latest entry in EA’s NHL series.

Some players have reservations about the Superstar X-Factors being overpowered and giving certain teams an edge. For instance, why not just pick the Tampa Bay Lightning every time since they'd be stacked with these abilities? You get an all-star goaltender in Vasilevskiy alongside elite talent in Kucherov, Point, Stamkos, and Hedman. How is EA Vancouver ensuring that the X-Factor abilities are balanced appropriately while remaining fun?

Kwong: There are a couple of things here. One is we're constantly working with our community, with our EA Game Changers group. Since NHL 16, we had started this specific group with different experts, covering gameplay, Be A Pro, and all kinds of different modes. So with X-Factor this year, in addition to it being available in all modes and having integration there, we also have gameplay experts within that group to give us feedback. We are constantly giving them weekly builds, making updates and gameplay changes, tuning the mechanics. There's a fair bit of feedback that we've gotten already from there. 

Second, obviously, is the technical test that just wrapped up. With the competitive balance side of things, what better mode to test it than our CHEL community? If there are any imbalances or exploits, that's where we find out. So those two data points are really informing any kind of balancing, changes, or tuning we may need to do for launch.

How often do X-Factors activate during a game? I know fewer players have the powerful “Zone” X-Factors, and they’re for the big superstars, but how many times will I see Auston Matthews’ “Shock and Awe” ability hit? Is it every time he goes out on the ice he can do that move, or do you need to do something to activate it?

As opposed to Madden's design model where you have to throw a [certain amount of] yards to completion on a single play, the game of hockey is different in terms of having line changes, the speed of the game, and it doesn’t have special teams outside of the penalty kill and power play. We had to take a bit of a different approach where the “Zone” and “Superstar” abilities are always active in the right context.

Take McDavid's Wheels Zone ability, for example. He's known for being the fastest player in the game, with or without the puck. You're not going to have his ability if you are in your own defensive zone or if you're hustling back on a defensive assignment. What you will see, though, is if he has a puck and he's carrying it through the neutral zone and the o-zone, that's where you'll have the ability activated. So depending on the ability, it is contextual. We don't have a specific trigger or event to activate it; it's always active in the right context. And the reason for that goes back to what I said earlier; hockey is such a fast sport with line changes. If we put in place a design where you had to trigger it, you really wouldn't have too many moments. We tested that early on.

It’s been said the X-Factors are going to change up the metagame. How have they changed the way that you play the game?

With the challenge of the pace of the game and the team game, really. I’ll use the example of the World of CHEL. We're changing up the way we're building our player classes with a lot of feedback from the community. So far, we'll say, ‘Hey, this is the go-to [build]’’ and then a day later, it’s like, ‘Actually, no, this is the go-to, here's how you counter it.” That, to me, is an interesting exploration. It’s not just about min-maxing anymore. Before in CHEL, you tried to stack these abilities, find out different combinations, and which one to give the one extra point. It's no longer about that one extra point, even though that's kind of a secondary layer available. In World of CHEL, it’s about your playstyle and the opponents you’re up against.

A short example I’ll use is truculence, which is kind of a big man ability and you can basically bowl over anyone. I tend to play as a smaller build with shot accuracy, or the ability to stickhandle, and I was playing someone and they just absolutely destroyed me, even though they're [so] much slower. I just could not get around them. So, there have to be different ways to counter those new player classes.

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So every player class should feel a little bit different and you have to figure out ways to counter these player types? One of my bigger complaints in previous iterations is every player felt too similar. In CHEL, you could tweak some stats, but they never felt like enough and you’d use similar tactics no matter who was on the ice.

Yeah, I would say definitely more thought needs to go into how you are building your player class and how you’re building players in your lineup. And for Franchise mode, team chemistry plays such a big role. It's changing the way that you're building and managing your roster lineups. 

Let's bring up the poke check because it was pretty powerful in NHL 21. Has that been tuned any for NHL 22? 

To be honest, that's something we've been hearing a lot during the production of NHL 22 from our Game Changers, who are like, “Hey, where there’s an opportunity, let’s fix poke checking.” That’s where stick and physics come in. So both when you look at the ability side where we've separated players defensively, like Victor Hedman or Drew Doughty are much better, much more efficient at poking away pucks without taking penalties. That's one layer.

The second layer is having the stick actually react realistically. It adds more predictability to how we're solving for poke checks, both in terms of the force and power that the defenders or the skaters are poking at, as well as how the stick interacts with the body and with the puck. So, the short answer is yes, absolutely. When you boot up the game and you play this year, we've made some massive improvements in that area.

Be A Pro got a huge upgrade last year, and this year it’s said to have multi-season storylines. Can you talk about kind of how that's going to work and what are some of those storylines?

With X-Factors changing the journey in Be A Pro in terms of you wanting to progress and unlock and grow into the most powerful abilities, we needed a way to tell those stories. We wanted to address some of the feedback that we had in terms of, ‘Hey, it was great you had this conversation system, but it's kind of repetitive and you don't have multi-season storylines.’ Well, this year, we brought X-Factors, we brought new challenges, we brought in new storylines that span multiple seasons. So you have your example of winning multiple divisions, winning multiple awards, all the way to what Pat Maroon did - winning multiple cups in consecutive seasons with different teams. And what the new challengers allow you to do is unlock new X-Factor points so that you can unlock slots for abilities to assign to your created character. 

This is probably a question you get every year, but it’s essential to the gameplay. Whether it’s on defense, offense, or being able to create better plays, what improvements to the A.I. did the EA Vancouver team really focus on this year? 

A.I. is an area that we have a yearly investment in. I don't think there is a way we can say we're going to fix all our A.I. issues because as our community plays and players play, the A.I. is bound to take some actions that don't make sense to the player. Specifically for defensive A.I. and joining the rush, we’ve made some improvements and upgrades there, more at the core A.I. level instead of a massive new feature overhaul.

The other piece is how A.I. players support you as a player in HUT or World of CHEL now that you have these new X-Factor abilities. So, with a lot of A.I. players also possessing these abilities, like with passing, for example, they’ve been upgraded to accommodate what it means to have better team play and pass the puck to you when you have the One-Tee zone ability [which gives you advanced power and accuracy on one-timers]. So, there have been minor updates, but it's something that we chip away at year after year.

From checking to Franchise mode changes, more quick confirmations from Kwong:
  • There won’t be any new skill moves like “The Michigan” from last year, but new animations are tied to the new zone and superstar X-Factor abilities. Kwong used the example of a power forward having better strength and balance, showcasing this with an animation to lean in and drive the lane [while still] being able to protect the puck from the opposing defender. 
  • Has checking improved? Kwong says so. “We've definitely updated the models for collisions and stumbles, specifically.” However, Kwong says it won’t always come down to player size when separating a player from the puck, referencing a player’s strength and balance in determining how easily they go down. He used Pavel Datsyuk as an example of a player who was only 5’11 but was still strong on his skates and said this is where the new X-Factor abilities shine for certain player types. 
  • You can expect more realistic stick interactions and psychics this time, with players batting pucks out of the air and disrupting passing lanes more naturally. This also led to him saying that you’ll see fewer penalties with poke checks. “In the past, you’d see poke checks through skates, and obviously, that’s not realistic when you trip players up, and that’s a been a source of frustrations. That’s one thing that’s fixed now.”
  • For Franchise mode fans, finding the right player fit for coaching systems will still be a factor, and the trade deadline minigame (sadly) remains untouched. Kwong also said scouting hasn’t changed much, except for the ability to uncover if players have X-Factors. He said to focus on having the best scouts possible because there will be more gems in later rounds. Line chemistry is also a bigger factor in this mode due to the X-Factors. “The really straightforward example I use is you want to make sure that you're supplementing your passing Zone ability player with someone that can also shoot, whether that's [increased] one-timer, slap shot, or wrist shot accuracy,” Kwong says. “Putting complementary skill sets together will greatly increase your line chemistry, while [soley] depending on one player [with these special abilities] will only give you a small boost.”
  • Kwong confirmed that players can have a max of one Zone ability and up to five Superstar abilities total. 
  • No new scenes were added to Be A Pro, but Kwong said there are hundreds of new conversations that also tie into the mode’s new podcast show to support your journey and the branching storylines. He also confirmed you’re still picking between “star” or “team” dialogue options to determine which type of teammate you want to be. 
     
Categories: Games

The Artful Escape Review - Nowhere Nephew

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 15:16

The Artful Escape is a visual treat--a platforming journey that takes players on a journey from Earth to the galaxies beyond and renders every location with gorgeous care. Evoking a variety of influences, from the artist Charlie Immer to the bright aesthetics of Lisa Frank, The Artful Escape captures the sheer cinematic thrill of watching your helicopter explode in a Call of Duty mission or falling off a cliff in a Naughty Dog set-piece, but transplants the action to a voyage that goes far beyond the realm of the real. It’s gentler, too, telling a story about learning how to be who you really are, and not who someone else expects you to be. There’s no violence to be found here; just easygoing platforming, low-pressure musical riffing, and adventure gaming that goes heavy on the dialogue and omits the puzzles entirely.

As the game begins, you are Francis Vendetti, a teen in a leather jacket, chunky boots, and eyewear that could be steampunk goggles or the perfect circle glasses that John Lennon made iconic. Francis is sitting on a bench on a cliff and the first prompt we see instructs us “To strum a folk ballad about the toil of a miner’s life, hold X.” It’s immediately pretentious, and that’s intentional. Francis is the nephew of Johnson Vendetti, who is a legend in the world of The Artful Escape. In Calypso, the small town where Francis has lived his whole life, his uncle is a hometown boy who made good. But “Press X to sing about miners” is not who Francis is at all. It rings hollow (and it should) because Francis is attempting to be someone he isn’t. But his first performance as a musician is scheduled for tomorrow, and Francis will be expected to perform that false identity for everyone he knows. Francis will grow as a character over The Artful Escape’s six-hour runtime, but this gameplay will remain the same. You spend a lot of time in this game holding X to strum on your guitar.

Then Francis meets Violetta, a punky girl with a bad attitude and an Edna Mode haircut. Violetta seems to see something in Francis and tells him to seek out Lightman's--ostensibly a store in Calypso. But Francis has lived in Calypso his whole life and knows there’s no such place. Doesn’t matter--Violetta is off and Francis heads home to get some sleep before his concert the next day. It turns out Francis didn’t need to find Lightman’s. Instead, Lightman, an aging musician voiced by Carl Weathers, comes to him, taking Francis to a spaceship called The Lung and sweeping him up in an intergalactic voyage. He promises Francis will be back in time to play his concert.

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Categories: Games

Lost in Random Review - Six Appeal

Gamespot News Feed - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 14:46

Lost in Random makes a poor first impression. The overly dark and dreary opening areas are disjointed, rushing through the setup in a confusing and off-putting manner. It feels like you've been dealt a dud hand. Persist, though, and the cards start falling into place. The deck-building strategic layer gradually settles until it successfully blends with the core action of the combat, and the world eventually reveals a much more interesting, brighter, more colorful and character-filled side. Lost in Random overcomes a rocky start to tell a genuinely affecting tale of friendship, sibling bonds, and the cruelty of inequality.

The world of Random is ruled by a capricious Queen who determines the fates of her subjects with a roll of the dice. Ones are left to labor in the working-class slums while Sixers are whisked off to the Queen's castle in the clouds, their newfound societal elevation relieving them of the burden of ever again interacting with the poor. Even is a young girl living in Onecroft when her older sister, Odd, rolls a six and they become separated. Even is rightly suspicious of the Queen and so sets out to rescue her sister.

Even quickly recruits a companion, Dicey, and learns how to fight by playing cards and rolling a dice--and yes, before you say anything, the game uses "dice" not as a plural but as a singular. Combat is the heart of this action-adventure, and it takes a bit of getting used to. Even can't attack enemies without first playing a card that grants her an ability, but to be able to play a card at all she must first collect enough crystals to be dealt one. When she has cards up to a full hand of five she can roll Dicey and play a number of cards equal to the number on the dice. What at first feels like a lot of unnecessary complications soon comes together to offer plenty of clever tactical and strategic choices.

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Categories: Games

Eastward | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/14/2021 - 14:00

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Publisher: Chucklefish Developer: Pixpil Release: September 16, 2021 Platform: Switch, PC

Eastward is here, taking players on a journey across a surreal world full of bizarre characters and quirky foes. In the early game, players master the frying pan and escape from the depths of the underground to learn more about a mysterious miasma that destroys everything it comes in contact with. Over the course of the title, players will gain additional hit points (heart counters) from slaying bosses and completing major goals, upgrade a number of ranged weapons to complement the frying pan, cook up glorious boss-busting meals, and bomb countless walls to find bonus chests. 

The currency in this world is salt, and you can spend it on all kinds of upgrades, but I often spent my hard-earned salt on a variety of ingredients so I could be flush with potent food options at all times. The game channels big Earthbound energy, so if you’re a fan of the old-school SNES title, Undertale, or other quirky RPGs, you’re definitely in the right place. Eastward features a game inside the game for retro RPG enthusiasts, a fully playable title called Earth Born. You’re probably going to enjoy it.  Join us in this episode of New Gameplay Today for a look and a discussion regarding Eastward, which releases on September 16 on PC and Switch.

“The locations and characters that fill these environments are memorable, and I wanted to thoroughly explore the town to make sure I talked to every single NPC,” I said in my Game Informer review with a score of 8.5. “I can’t remember the last time I did that in an RPG, and it’s a testament to what a fine world Pixpil has created. These cozy lore elements probably would have worked with any art style, but Eastward’s combination of spectacular music and pixelated look creates an atmosphere that proves you don’t need 4K resolution and ray-tracing to make something magical.”

Categories: Games

Deathloop Review: All You Need Is Kill

Gamespot News Feed - Mon, 09/13/2021 - 13:01

The Isle of Blackreef is a place where lawlessness and debauchery aren't just welcomed but encouraged. It's caught in a time loop, so the events of any given day have no bearing on the next. At the end of every sex, drug, and alcohol binge-fueled evening, the slate is wiped clean so it can happen all over again. Memories are lost and harm--self-inflicted or done to others--is always undone. Blackreef changed me. It made me behave in a way that's not in my nature. Whether it's Metal Gear Solid, Deus Ex, Splinter Cell, or Dishonored, the role I inhabit is that of a ghost, entering a scenario to achieve an objective and leaving with clean hands and conscience. I'm the pebble thrown into water that makes no ripples.

And yet, in Deathloop, I murdered hundreds of Eternalists and I felt good about doing it. I tried to be true to myself--skulking across rooftops, hiding in dark corners, and carefully moving between people, but the allure of Blackreef's daily absolution was difficult to resist. I watched the first Eternalist I killed dissolve into nothingness, and a message written into the air in some ethereal ink assured me he'd return in the next loop, completely oblivious to what happened. Killing became second nature, and with no consequence why wouldn't it?

The rules of Deathloop's world created an intoxicating sense of liberation, but this leads to the game's central question of purpose: When nothing matters, how do you give your actions meaning? That is where developer Arkane Lyon's gameplay design comes into play, and killing with reckless abandon becomes killing for a reason: to break the loop. The mechanics that govern the world and facilitate your quest to upend it are constructed so masterfully that there's a tangible sense of growth both in-game and out of it. You begin your first day in Blackreef dazed, confused, and incredibly hungover, and end your final one as the unstoppable architect of its demise.

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Categories: Games

Kraken Academy Is An Absurd Time-Loop Adventure That Gets Sillier By The Second

Game Informer News Feed - Fri, 09/10/2021 - 20:30

Publisher: Fellow Traveller Developer: Happy Broccoli Games Release: September 10, 2021 Platform: PC

I’m dropped off at Kraken Academy, a dump of a school that apparently looks much better in the brochures. I endure words of discouragement from my cruel older sister before she runs off to join the upscale drama club. I barely have time to soak in my crappy surroundings when an angry student chases a crazy hobo. The two engage in a cartoon-style brawl complete with a comedic dust cloud. The fight is so intense that a nearby car randomly combusts into flames, Simpson’s style. Before I can see the winner of this impromptu scuffle, a small broccoli girl, as in a sentient female vegetable, runs up to whisk me away before I’m late for my first day of school. My thought after this rapid series of unorthodox events: “I have no idea what I’m getting into, but I must see more of it.”

I’m a few hours into my stay at Kraken Academy and it’s a trip so far. In my time with the story-driven relationship-building game I’ve joined a demonic cult, brushed shoulders with the mafia, and crashed a costume party of bikers and less-committal furries. Everyone you meet is an odd duck in some form or fashion but the strangest (and biggest) is a giant talking octopus who fills you in on a prophecy: in three days, an unknown student or faculty member will trigger a calamity that will destroy the school. The only way to figure out the culprit is to talk to everyone, befriending and understanding their schedules, personalities, and what makes them tick. You’ll also have to free the trapped guardian spirits of each of the school’s four clubs. The Kraken gives you a special amulet that allows you to reverse time back to the first day. That way, you can keep digging for info while retaining the knowledge and items gained in previous runs.  

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I’m having a great time interacting with my goofy peers, who include a giraffe-loving Velma doppelganger, a wacky conspiracy nut, a lazy, sleep-obsessed teacher, of course, good old Broccoli Girl. The sharp writing has made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, and I’m enjoying getting to know these weirdos through sidequests and even dates. It’s good that the writing holds up because Kraken Academy is big on chatting and lighter on interaction. Moment-to-moment gameplay involves roaming around the rundown campus and smashing objects with a bat to collect bottles, which are traded for currency. It’s a simple but satisfying feature; breaking stuff is inherently fun, after all. 

All other major interactions, at least from what I’ve seen so far, unfold with either a reflex-based mini-game of stopping a moving needle within a target and filling meters by mashing a button. It’s the exact same mechanic no matter if you’re playing the keyboard with your band, painting a picture for the weird art club, or simply trying to talk to someone without coming off as a creep. I’m getting a bit bored of it, but Kraken Academy promotes storytelling first and foremost so I understand not wanting to bog players down in too many different mechanics. 

The game starts on a Monday with Wednesday serving as the big finale. Each time loop tasks you with unlocking a specific club’s guardian spirit during that three-day period. I started with the music club and am currently finishing up the art club. The Kraken dictates who you pursue next, so the main narrative feels less freeform than what I expected. You complete a string of simple missions, then unlock the final day that you can immediately fast-forward to if you don’t feel like engaging with side activities. In fact, it’s often better to push ahead as there’s sometimes less to do than you realize early on, which threw me off while searching for things I could do. I don’t actually mind this more direct approach. Coming off of Twelve Minutes and that game’s overly repetitive nature, having bigger arrows point me forward feels refreshing. 

That said, Kraken Academy has yet to feel repetitive. The structure means I haven’t had to revisit any of the music club stuff while engaging with the art club. From what I’ve seen, sidequests play up the game’s looping nature the most. For example, I learned Broccoli girl wants a BBQ grill during the first loop, but I couldn’t find one until I was given access to the art club’s campus during the second loop. A lot of the game’s quests involve finding items for the characters who want them and figuring out which club’s campus houses those materials. Help a classmate and staff member enough earns you a friendship medal. Trading these items to the aforementioned hobo unlocks upgrades for the bottle converter that nets you more coins. Why do you want more coins? So far, to purchase decorations for your dorm or, more importantly, buy club membership cards from a shady dealer. 

Kraken Academy is a bizarre experience thematically and narratively. I’m having a fun time soaking in its silliness, which constantly assaults you in often surprising ways. Playing the game itself is fine in a simple sense and, thus far, rewinding time feels less involved than it lets on. You start a loop, unlock whatever new items or abilities are present in that loop’s featured area, then apply those items/knowledge to unlock previously inaccessible places or conversations. It doesn’t feel dramatically different from how you progress in standard games, just dressed up. Of course, time-traveling could easily become more involved as I dive deeper into Kraken Academy’s mysteries. If it doesn’t, that’s probably fine too. I’m more invested in the writing and situations than the mechanics of the time-loops themselves. Yes, it would be cool if that stuff becomes more inventive. But having an elderly woman yell at me that her husband divorced her by silently dabbing at her or watching a girl foolishly ride her pony into a bounce house and pop it, causing it to, again, burst into flames for no reason is keeping me entertained just fine.

Categories: Games

New Gran Turismo 7 Trailer Shows Off Customization And Photo Mode

Game Informer News Feed - Thu, 09/09/2021 - 22:11

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Publisher: PlayStation Studios Developer: Polyphony Digital Release: March 4, 2022 Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4

Amidst the Marvel takeover during today's Showcase event, Sony showed off Polyphony Digital's realist racing game, giving fans a tease of what to expect with the newest installment. The GT series has always focused on realistic racing and presenting a large stable of cars focusing on even the smallest minutia. 

In the newest trailer, we got a look at car customization features, GT 7's photo mode, globe-spanning race tracks, and weather effects. 

Gran Turismo 7 initially looked set as a PS5 exclusive that could be out before the end of this year. However, in June, Sony revealed that the title would not release until 2022, thanks to delays resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Thankfully, Gran Turismo 7 is also set to release on PS4 and PS4 Pro.

It's been over eight years since the release of the last numbered Gran Turismo, so this could be a big deal. In our review for GT 6, Matthew Kato said, "It's fitting that GT 6 appears at the end of the PS3's arc. This 15-year anniversary is an unironic celebration of the yoke of its legacy, but it doesn't have to signal the end of the franchise itself. Thankfully, glimmers of Gran Turismo's racing spirit still live." So hopefully GT 7 has a bit more to offer. 

What do you think about Gran Turismo 7? Are you into this kind of deep customization, or do you prefer the wild playfulness in racing games like Forza Horizon? 

Categories: Games

Life Is Strange: True Colors Review -- More Than A Feeling

Gamespot News Feed - Thu, 09/09/2021 - 14:00

For six years, the Life Is Strange series has consistently told stories about the ties that bind us, between friends, families, and communities. The latest entry, True Colors, represents the first time subtext becomes not just text, but the game's core mechanic. The strength of Life Is Strange as a series is how it always seeks to answers the deeper questions about why people are the way they are, but even compared to the original Life is Strange protagonist Max Caulfield seeking to untangle her best friend's life, or Sean and Daniel Diaz of Life is Strange 2 being at the mercy of an increasingly merciless America, True Colors drills deeper. It features a new hero who can delve into peoples' lives on a level beyond the capabilities of the series' other protagonists. That ability lets the game traverse some new, fascinating territory for this series, but it’s still a bit too bashful about staying there for too long..

You play as Alex Chen, a child of the foster care system who was separated from her big brother Gabe when she was 10. She bounced from family to facility and back again for over a decade before, finally, Gabe tracked her down and invited her to his new home of Haven Springs, an idyllic little village in Colorado. While it's seemingly a peaceful-enough place to start a life, Alex is helpless when it comes to her big secret and the game's supernatural hook: Alex is a superpowered empath who is not only able to see and read peoples' emotions as giant bursts of psychedelic colors, but if the emotion is strong enough, she will actually inherit it. Unfortunately, the foster care system not exactly being the happiest place on earth means Alex finds herself consumed by crippling depressive episodes and extreme fits of rage beyond her control.

And so, as Alex begins her new life, Haven Springs starts to rub off on her, in more ways than one. When a major tragedy strikes the town, keeping the peace becomes an imperative, and it’s about protecting herself just as much as it is about protecting the town. For the most part, True Colors operates the same way as every other Life Is Strange title: As Alex, you walk around and interact with everything and everyone the game will allow you to, occasionally making crucial, life-changing choices through dialogue that affect the world and the course of the story. On the technical level, there are a few marked improvements over past games in the series, especially in terms of visuals. This is the most gorgeous and lush Life is Strange game, with a huge, impressive improvement to the character performances, though it comes at a price. The PS5 port we tested took some heavy hits in frame rate when wandering around the town and stuttered elsewhere. The PC port handled much better, but even there, keeping up with the workload isn't easy on the computer.

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Categories: Games

Tales Of Arise Review -- Wake Me Up Inside

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/08/2021 - 15:00

As the first major original JRPG on new consoles and the latest installment of a very long-running series, Tales of Arise comes with a lot of expectations attached. Arise sets out to refresh its visual presentation and gameplay to appeal to a new audience, but it also tries its best to retain what has made the Tales series so beloved among its longtime fans: fun characters, fast-paced combat, and an epic sense of scale. While it manages to succeed admirably at most of what it tries to do, a few shortcomings keep it from being the new standard-bearer for RPGs to come.

300 years ago, the planet Dahna was invaded by the people of their neighboring star, Rena, and crumbled beneath the might of the Renans' advanced technology and knowledge. Since their conquest, the Renans have destroyed the once-vibrant Dahnan culture and enslaved the planet's people. One day, a nameless, amnesiac slave known only as Iron Mask finds himself caught up in a supply train hijacking by rebel forces--and discovers that the freight is a Renan woman with a strange curse. As he gets swept up in a Dahnan rebellion, Iron Mask discovers new powers, his true name--Alphen--and a connection to the Renan girl, Shionne. But this tiny slave rebellion grows into something much bigger.

The beginning of Tales of Arise is a marked departure from the chipper banter and adventuring most Tales games lead off with. With heavy topics like slavery and oppression taking center stage in the narrative, the overall tone of Arise's story for the first several hours is quite dour, drilling into you the sheer misery and desperation of the Dahnan people. Fortunately, once your party fills out, the familiar Tales party dynamics come back in full force, with characters' personalities bouncing off each other in numerous entertaining dialogue exchanges. The rapport among your teammates--and watching their interactions change as they go through individual character arcs--is a major draw, and you'll find yourself eager to keep playing just to see the team react to the latest turn of events around the campfire or complain about the latest broken dungeon elevator.

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Categories: Games

WarioWare: Get It Together Review - A Platform For Change

Gamespot News Feed - Wed, 09/08/2021 - 14:00

Wario has transitioned from a platformer antagonist in Super Mario Land 2 to platforming antihero in the Wario Land series to indie game developer in the WarioWare series. In WarioWare: Get It Together, the character comes full circle with a microgame collection that loosely goes back to his platforming roots and brings his own original characters along for the ride. It's a much different WarioWare experience, and the new twist is mostly for the better.

If you've played any prior WarioWare games, you have a basic idea of what to expect in Get it Together. Wario and his cadre of weirdos have created a series of "microgames" that only last a handful of seconds. You'll find yourself plopped onto a game screen with an instruction consisting of no more than a few words, meaning you have to figure out the goal and execute the right action with quick-thinking and sharp reaction times. These microgames are then thrown into a blender, demanding quick responses one after another in a gauntlet of zany action. It's a formula that has been fun since Mega Microgames on the Game Boy Advance, and it still works exceptionally well--and maybe even better--with this new take on the concept.

The twist in Get It Together is that all of the microgames involve some degree of character platforming. While previous WarioWare games might have simply had you press the A button at the right moment to manipulate an on-screen device, in Get It Together you'll always be controlling a character. Characters include Wario, complete with his Wario Land-style shoulder slam, along with all of the WarioWare-specific characters who have been introduced throughout the series' history. As a story device, they've all been sucked into their own video game which is being plagued by bugs.

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Categories: Games

The Most Important Addition To Call of Duty: Vanguard Multiplayer Is Combat Pacing

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/07/2021 - 18:30

Publisher: Activision Developer: Sledgehammer Games Release: November 5, 2021 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Sure, new modes, maps, and all the usual elements are coming to Call of Duty: Vanguard as it tackles traditional multiplayer. As usual, Call of Duty: Vanguard is offering a multifaceted experience that caters to varying playstyles, including a single-player campaign, zombies, multiplayer, and a brand-new multiplayer mode known as Champion Hill. We recently had the opportunity to dive into some traditional multiplayer to explore classic team deathmatch, kill confirmed, domination, and a variant on hardpoint known as patrol. However, the biggest defining factor in the experience isn’t any of the guns, killstreaks, perks, or gunsmith tinkering – it’s actually just the ability to define the speed and pacing of your gameplay experience before the game even begins.

It is important to keep in mind what is going on within Activision Blizzard at this time regarding ongoing allegations about the work culture. The ongoing lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against the company is over reported toxic workplace culture. The bulk of the suit focuses on "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws," specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please check out our previous coverage here. What is Combat Pacing?

So, what is combat pacing? It’s a dial you set in your options menu before you even hop into a game, like selecting what maps you want to play or what modes you want to dive into. There are three different settings to select from. If you select assault, you get the “classic” Call of Duty experience in terms of time to engagement, the number of players in the game, and more. The other options let you more intensely dial into your own personal preference. Do you like to just grab a shotgun, go all-out and try to get a triple-kill before you go down, respawn, and do it all again, flinging incendiary grenades in the few seconds you’re alive? Blitz pacing is for you, featuring sheer chaos with tons of players in a match and extremely quick time-to-engagement. I’ve never seen fields of dog tag pickups like I did on kill confirmed blitz mode, a sheer pit of whirling gunplay where life was short and brutal, but with plenty of opportunities to collect loads of points too. There’s nothing quite like just chucking a few grenades in a room and ending up with a random quad-kill. If you want fast, unrelenting action, Blitz is the tickbox to check.

If you’re tired of the meme-tastic Call of Duty “Spawn, get shot in the back, spawn, shoot someone else in the back” trope, then tactical pacing is for you. Smaller player pools and significant time to engagement mean that you’re probably going to have an intimate experience with one or maybe two other players – you’re not going to be zerged down by a horde. These options benefit players that want to set up, move slowly and deliberately through a map, and have core shootouts with less chaotic variables. These options might not seem like much, but they are actually poised to have a massive impact on the multiplayer experience so that each player can select their own speed. If you’re a Killhouse 24/7 lover, blitz is going to be your jam. If you want to have some sniper wars, tactical might be the right call. Or you can change nothing at all and just play as it ever was with assault!

Outside of combat pacing, patrol is a cool way to play hardpoint, anyway, and I think I might like it more. Instead of having points appear that need to be locked down across the map, there’s one constantly moving hardpoint that “patrols” around the map. Trying to keep control of that point as it rotates and swirls around chokepoints and exposed positions is actually a lot more engaging than trying to cap and hold hardpoints, and I think this particular take on the hardpoint experience could find some fans.

Categories: Games

Call Of Duty: Vanguard Multiplayer | New Gameplay Today

Game Informer News Feed - Tue, 09/07/2021 - 18:30

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Publisher: Activision Developer: Sledgehammer Games Release: November 5, 2021 Rating: Mature Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Call of Duty: Vanguard arrives on November 5th, with various opportunities to dive into slices of the game ahead of time via betas, early access periods, and more.

In this episode of New Gameplay Today, join us for a look at many of the traditional Call of Duty multiplayer modes that find their way into the annual title releases. Of particular note, the Patrol mode functions as a high-intensity take on the classic Hardpoint game type, except instead of bustling about the map from point to point, there’s one hardpoint for the whole game – but it’s constantly moving! The capture point “patrols” around the map, making for some interesting situations as it’s constantly exposed to new sightlines and of course, incendiary grenade spam windows. So pop in, pop out, and check every direction as you roam the map alongside the moving hold point – it’s actually a pretty nice take on the classic mode without shaking things up too much.

It is important to keep in mind what is going on within Activision Blizzard at this time regarding ongoing allegations about the work culture. The ongoing lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) against the company is over reported toxic workplace culture. The bulk of the suit focuses on "violations of the state's civil rights and equal pay laws," specifically regarding the treatment of women and other marginalized groups. To learn more about the proceedings thus far, including details listed in the lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, please check out our previous coverage here.

However, the real aspect of significance with the multiplayer here isn’t in the modes, as they’re all pretty much what you have come to expect from traditional multiplayer. The big, big difference is being able to select your speed. Combat pacing gives players access to dial in their preferred game pacing, whether that’s a traditional Call of Duty experience with Assault, or have a slower game via Tactical or a veritable kill fest with Blitz. Time to engagement, number of players in a game, and more are all addressed with these combat pacing options, and it amounts to a simple tickbox you select before heading into any of the core offerings. It may seem like a small thing, but it creates a whole lot of options in terms of preferred playstyle.

Are you interested in Call of Duty: Vanguard? Waiting to see more from the campaign, Zombies, and the Champion Hill modes? Or are you just ready for a brand new Warzone? Let us know in the comments!

Categories: Games

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