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Found 160 results

  1. What if I told you that the developers who reintroduced “hella” back into modern lexicon were tackling a 20th century vampire action epic for their next game? You’d be forgiven for refusing to believe me, but it’s true. Dontnod, the same team behind the 2015 hit narrative adventure Life Is Strange, are taking to the streets of 1918’s vampire-infested London, complete with all the stabbing and bloodsucking that entails. Developers from Dontnod gave a media-exclusive hands-off demo of Vampyr at E3 this year, showing off just how expansive their incarnation of London is and how its citizens will play a vital role in determining your fate as well as the city’s. You play as Jonathan Reid, a brooding doctor who quite literally moonlights as a recently-turned vampire. London is currently under siege from all ends, including a deadly flu virus and ravenous undead humans called the “Skal". Reid must work to find solutions to end both threats. Fixated on him, however, are an order of cutthroat vampire hunters nipping at his every step. Our E3 demo began with Reid confronting his superior at his place of work, a London hospital. Reid is attempting to determine what caused a number of grisly deaths, only to stumble upon another vampire speaking with his boss. Reid’s boss is quick to remind them both that the hospital is sacred ground among London’s vampire clans, suggesting the game’s dialogue and action choices will carry consequences far and wide. While searching for clues in the streets and alleys, Reid finds himself chatting with a suspiciously hostile man by the docks. It’s here that Dontnod shows off how his vampiric needs will twist each of London’s several districts and the people who reside there. The man is unwilling to cooperate with Reid’s investigation unless he can help him find his mother’s missing ring. It seems that she’s the only person this miserable grump loves, so in the interest of digging up clues, Reid searches the nearby dock. Unfortunately, the misplaced ring isn’t the only thing we find underneath a tunnel entrance. There’s also a nice pile of dead bodies. Turns out our reluctant informant is a serial killer, and after meeting mother dearest, it’s clear the poor old lady has made peace with her son’s vicious ways by covering up for him. Since you’re a vampire, you’ll need to feed off of at least a few of London’s residents to grow in power so you can defend yourself from the hunters. While the obvious choice might be to take out our murdering friend, it’s actually his mother’s blood that’s much higher in quality, and thus grants more experience points to channel into abilities. Dontnod makes the call to end the woman’s existence and reap the rewards. After assimilating her blood by sleeping the day away, we get a chance to see the results of our handiwork, and it isn’t pretty. Mr. serial killer’s home is trashed, with the man in question brooding in the bedroom about all the revenge he’s going to exact on the city. Dontnod informs us that other effects of our actions will include different market prices for items, more undead in the underground and dark corners of the city, increased crime, and a higher murder rate for NPCs. Dontnod also took some time to show off combat, and how you’ll mix traditional fisticuffs and bladework with vampiric bloodsucking. On a more surface level, it mirror’s Batman: Arkham’s third-person punching and dodging, with a bit of teleportation ala Dishonored’s blink ability. Enemies have health bars above their heads, so you’ll know exactly how close they are to death, but if you’re feeling a little aggressive, you can also magically sap blood straight from their skin to recharge your abilities and health. It’s inventive enough, especially once your blood bar is filled to allow some gory finishing moves. Reid eventually performed a finisher that teleported his form into the body of an enemy, tearing him apart from the inside before teleporting back to watch the ensuing explosion. I just hope it doesn’t feel like a weightless mash-a-thon in the final product. Part of Batman’s thrill was feeling every bone crunch. It only makes sense that actual bloodsuckers have as much force behind their punches, too. Vampyr won’t be the first action game Dontnod tackles (2013’s Remember Me saw to that), but their proclivity for taking risks, along with excellent characters and world-building give the game a solid foundation to move forward on. It remains to be seen if the experience will translate to a full open world with side quests and other minutia to tackle, but this will definitely be one shadow to watch over your shoulder for in the future. Vampyr is available this November for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. View full article
  2. What if I told you that the developers who reintroduced “hella” back into modern lexicon were tackling a 20th century vampire action epic for their next game? You’d be forgiven for refusing to believe me, but it’s true. Dontnod, the same team behind the 2015 hit narrative adventure Life Is Strange, are taking to the streets of 1918’s vampire-infested London, complete with all the stabbing and bloodsucking that entails. Developers from Dontnod gave a media-exclusive hands-off demo of Vampyr at E3 this year, showing off just how expansive their incarnation of London is and how its citizens will play a vital role in determining your fate as well as the city’s. You play as Jonathan Reid, a brooding doctor who quite literally moonlights as a recently-turned vampire. London is currently under siege from all ends, including a deadly flu virus and ravenous undead humans called the “Skal". Reid must work to find solutions to end both threats. Fixated on him, however, are an order of cutthroat vampire hunters nipping at his every step. Our E3 demo began with Reid confronting his superior at his place of work, a London hospital. Reid is attempting to determine what caused a number of grisly deaths, only to stumble upon another vampire speaking with his boss. Reid’s boss is quick to remind them both that the hospital is sacred ground among London’s vampire clans, suggesting the game’s dialogue and action choices will carry consequences far and wide. While searching for clues in the streets and alleys, Reid finds himself chatting with a suspiciously hostile man by the docks. It’s here that Dontnod shows off how his vampiric needs will twist each of London’s several districts and the people who reside there. The man is unwilling to cooperate with Reid’s investigation unless he can help him find his mother’s missing ring. It seems that she’s the only person this miserable grump loves, so in the interest of digging up clues, Reid searches the nearby dock. Unfortunately, the misplaced ring isn’t the only thing we find underneath a tunnel entrance. There’s also a nice pile of dead bodies. Turns out our reluctant informant is a serial killer, and after meeting mother dearest, it’s clear the poor old lady has made peace with her son’s vicious ways by covering up for him. Since you’re a vampire, you’ll need to feed off of at least a few of London’s residents to grow in power so you can defend yourself from the hunters. While the obvious choice might be to take out our murdering friend, it’s actually his mother’s blood that’s much higher in quality, and thus grants more experience points to channel into abilities. Dontnod makes the call to end the woman’s existence and reap the rewards. After assimilating her blood by sleeping the day away, we get a chance to see the results of our handiwork, and it isn’t pretty. Mr. serial killer’s home is trashed, with the man in question brooding in the bedroom about all the revenge he’s going to exact on the city. Dontnod informs us that other effects of our actions will include different market prices for items, more undead in the underground and dark corners of the city, increased crime, and a higher murder rate for NPCs. Dontnod also took some time to show off combat, and how you’ll mix traditional fisticuffs and bladework with vampiric bloodsucking. On a more surface level, it mirror’s Batman: Arkham’s third-person punching and dodging, with a bit of teleportation ala Dishonored’s blink ability. Enemies have health bars above their heads, so you’ll know exactly how close they are to death, but if you’re feeling a little aggressive, you can also magically sap blood straight from their skin to recharge your abilities and health. It’s inventive enough, especially once your blood bar is filled to allow some gory finishing moves. Reid eventually performed a finisher that teleported his form into the body of an enemy, tearing him apart from the inside before teleporting back to watch the ensuing explosion. I just hope it doesn’t feel like a weightless mash-a-thon in the final product. Part of Batman’s thrill was feeling every bone crunch. It only makes sense that actual bloodsuckers have as much force behind their punches, too. Vampyr won’t be the first action game Dontnod tackles (2013’s Remember Me saw to that), but their proclivity for taking risks, along with excellent characters and world-building give the game a solid foundation to move forward on. It remains to be seen if the experience will translate to a full open world with side quests and other minutia to tackle, but this will definitely be one shadow to watch over your shoulder for in the future. Vampyr is available this November for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
  3. Beyond Good and Evil 2 made a comeback during the Ubisoft E3 2017 conference with a trailer confirming its continued development. On June 22 we got a behind-the-scenes look at the demo that ran at E3. The just under 15-minute video shows early in-engine footage as it's being described by Creative Director Michel Ancel. Ancel shows off some mechanics as well as the scale of a couple of ships in comparison to the size of one of the new main characters, a chimpanzee named Knox. Scale was a huge focus (pun intended) in the demo. Ancel took Knox to the 700-meter tall statue next to the already enormous space ships and then zoomed out to give the viewer a different vantage point. He then zoomed out to the atmosphere and then to space to showcase the enormity of the world the team is building. There isn't a release date for the game, but there is a community called the Space Monkey Program that fans can join to get info on the game as it comes out. View full article
  4. Beyond Good and Evil 2 made a comeback during the Ubisoft E3 2017 conference with a trailer confirming its continued development. On June 22 we got a behind-the-scenes look at the demo that ran at E3. The just under 15-minute video shows early in-engine footage as it's being described by Creative Director Michel Ancel. Ancel shows off some mechanics as well as the scale of a couple of ships in comparison to the size of one of the new main characters, a chimpanzee named Knox. Scale was a huge focus (pun intended) in the demo. Ancel took Knox to the 700-meter tall statue next to the already enormous space ships and then zoomed out to give the viewer a different vantage point. He then zoomed out to the atmosphere and then to space to showcase the enormity of the world the team is building. There isn't a release date for the game, but there is a community called the Space Monkey Program that fans can join to get info on the game as it comes out.
  5. For as long as I’ve known her, my mother has been deathly afraid of rats. Even the faintest squeak of the floor is enough to send her into hysterics, a trait my sibling and I have exploited to no end of our own sadistic joy. As a pediatric nurse, my mother regularly witnesses some of the scariest moments of thousands of people’s lives, but these tiny creatures still instill the darkest possible fear in her. A Plague Tale: Innocence is going to melt her gosh darn brain. The developers at Asoba Studio gave a hands off demo exclusive to members of the media featuring the same locations from their E3 teaser trailer, showcasing Plague Tale’s dark Inquisition era and roving hordes of rodents. You play as a young redheaded woman named Amicia, searching through the mucky streets of a 14th century French village for your younger brother Hugo and mother. It’s the middle of the night and the streets are deathly quiet. Amicia happened upon a group of Inquisition soldiers attempting to bust into a residence suspected of harboring criminals or the diseased; I’m not quite sure. What is sure is that these soldiers are definitely bad dudes (they also believe Amicia and her family are a clan of witches), as Amicia eventually comes upon a guarded carriage housing her captive brother. Two soldiers with lanterns are patrolling nearby as a few clusters of rats slink through the grass. Considering Amicia isn’t some hulking swordsman, she has to use her ingenuity and intellect to defeat obstacles. To that end, she’s able to use a sling to whip rocks at both guards, forcing them to drop their lanterns, which smash on impact. In the world of Plague Tale, strong light is able to ward off the rat hordes, as they’re infused with some magical, almost vampiric power that forces them to stick to the shadows; unfortunate for the guards now shrouded in darkness, as each nearby rat immediately swarms them, leaping all over their body and tears their flesh apart. There’s little time to consider the wails of death, as Amicia grabs her brother and flees into a nearby cathedral. Plague Tale isn’t all rats and rock slinging, though. Amicia is able to order Hugo to slip into small spaces she’s too tall for, allowing him to retrieve light sources or other resources from unreachable locations and other basic puzzles. Amicia determines that they need to reach the back of the cathedral to find their missing mother, but it’s blocked by another large horde of rats guarding an oddly fleshy crack in the wall. After Hugo retrieves a lantern from behind a nearby gate, Amicia is able to disperse the rats by shooting a rock at a large fire pot hanging from the ceiling and knocking it to the ground. To the horror of Amicia and her brother, the resounding crash of metal on stone attracts more rats than she could account for. From every crack, hole and open wound in the stonework comes hundreds and hundreds of pissed off rodents. This is where Plague Tale’s technology shines through. After the demo, I asked how many rats the developers could fit on screen at once. Their answer: Roughly 3,000. The true beauty of these horrifying hordes isn’t just how many of them can be on screen, it’s how they flow like water, ebbing and gliding over architecture in a deliberate, yet chaotic nature. It’s eerily reminiscent of the zombies in World War Z, as they careened down a market street, flooding every inch from top to bottom with their collective rage. And while each rat beefs up the larger group, each one feels like a relatively independent creature when your light source is able to kill off a few stragglers. From there, Amicia proceeded to clutch Hugo close to her as they pushed forward through the avalanche of rats, directing the light towards any clusters that threatened to get too close. The tension continues to mount higher and higher until the pair make it to the gash in the wall, leading to a disturbingly dark and fleshy tunnel. Hugo, hearing the call of their mother, goes running off into the shadows as Amicia warns him that it can’t be her. A Plague Tale: Innocence definitely fits into publisher Focus Home Interactive’s mostly gothic repertoire and the hook of navigating a grim world beset by rodents is welcome. According to the developer, the entire game will take about 10 hours to complete, which begs the question of just how much this game will depend on rats, stealthing past soldiers, or basic puzzle solving with your brother. Plague Tale’s scope might end up getting a little too wide, but as long as the horrors of the rat horde stay fresh, I’ll be more than willing to bite. A Plague Tale: Innocence doesn't have a release date yet, but it is planned to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC. View full article
  6. For as long as I’ve known her, my mother has been deathly afraid of rats. Even the faintest squeak of the floor is enough to send her into hysterics, a trait my sibling and I have exploited to no end of our own sadistic joy. As a pediatric nurse, my mother regularly witnesses some of the scariest moments of thousands of people’s lives, but these tiny creatures still instill the darkest possible fear in her. A Plague Tale: Innocence is going to melt her gosh darn brain. The developers at Asoba Studio gave a hands off demo exclusive to members of the media featuring the same locations from their E3 teaser trailer, showcasing Plague Tale’s dark Inquisition era and roving hordes of rodents. You play as a young redheaded woman named Amicia, searching through the mucky streets of a 14th century French village for your younger brother Hugo and mother. It’s the middle of the night and the streets are deathly quiet. Amicia happened upon a group of Inquisition soldiers attempting to bust into a residence suspected of harboring criminals or the diseased; I’m not quite sure. What is sure is that these soldiers are definitely bad dudes (they also believe Amicia and her family are a clan of witches), as Amicia eventually comes upon a guarded carriage housing her captive brother. Two soldiers with lanterns are patrolling nearby as a few clusters of rats slink through the grass. Considering Amicia isn’t some hulking swordsman, she has to use her ingenuity and intellect to defeat obstacles. To that end, she’s able to use a sling to whip rocks at both guards, forcing them to drop their lanterns, which smash on impact. In the world of Plague Tale, strong light is able to ward off the rat hordes, as they’re infused with some magical, almost vampiric power that forces them to stick to the shadows; unfortunate for the guards now shrouded in darkness, as each nearby rat immediately swarms them, leaping all over their body and tears their flesh apart. There’s little time to consider the wails of death, as Amicia grabs her brother and flees into a nearby cathedral. Plague Tale isn’t all rats and rock slinging, though. Amicia is able to order Hugo to slip into small spaces she’s too tall for, allowing him to retrieve light sources or other resources from unreachable locations and other basic puzzles. Amicia determines that they need to reach the back of the cathedral to find their missing mother, but it’s blocked by another large horde of rats guarding an oddly fleshy crack in the wall. After Hugo retrieves a lantern from behind a nearby gate, Amicia is able to disperse the rats by shooting a rock at a large fire pot hanging from the ceiling and knocking it to the ground. To the horror of Amicia and her brother, the resounding crash of metal on stone attracts more rats than she could account for. From every crack, hole and open wound in the stonework comes hundreds and hundreds of pissed off rodents. This is where Plague Tale’s technology shines through. After the demo, I asked how many rats the developers could fit on screen at once. Their answer: Roughly 3,000. The true beauty of these horrifying hordes isn’t just how many of them can be on screen, it’s how they flow like water, ebbing and gliding over architecture in a deliberate, yet chaotic nature. It’s eerily reminiscent of the zombies in World War Z, as they careened down a market street, flooding every inch from top to bottom with their collective rage. And while each rat beefs up the larger group, each one feels like a relatively independent creature when your light source is able to kill off a few stragglers. From there, Amicia proceeded to clutch Hugo close to her as they pushed forward through the avalanche of rats, directing the light towards any clusters that threatened to get too close. The tension continues to mount higher and higher until the pair make it to the gash in the wall, leading to a disturbingly dark and fleshy tunnel. Hugo, hearing the call of their mother, goes running off into the shadows as Amicia warns him that it can’t be her. A Plague Tale: Innocence definitely fits into publisher Focus Home Interactive’s mostly gothic repertoire and the hook of navigating a grim world beset by rodents is welcome. According to the developer, the entire game will take about 10 hours to complete, which begs the question of just how much this game will depend on rats, stealthing past soldiers, or basic puzzle solving with your brother. Plague Tale’s scope might end up getting a little too wide, but as long as the horrors of the rat horde stay fresh, I’ll be more than willing to bite. A Plague Tale: Innocence doesn't have a release date yet, but it is planned to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC.
  7. Outreach takes the narrative-focused space exploration of titles like Adr1ft and injects a hefty does of historical accuracy and an unshakable eeriness. Pixel Spill’s four-man team has been cranking away at the project for about two years, and during E3 last week I got to play the game's unnerving first 20 minutes. “I love sci-fi. I watch Star Trek on my lunch breaks,” James Booth, producer and writer, said. “But something I wanted to do differently with Outreach, I wanted it to be steeped in the history of space travel rather than being alternate history or future.” Outreach draws inspiration from the space race between the then-Soviet Union and the United States and how the Soviets beat the Americans by sending the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space. Chiefly, Outreach explores the “lost cosmonaut” conspiracy theory that alleges that prior to Gagarin, the Soviets secretly launched cosmonauts into space. However, all of them perished and the government covered up the mission. Additionally, espionage films such as The Hunt for Red October provided further influence. Set in 1986, players control a lone Soviet cosmonaut (voiced by The Wolf Among Us’ Adam Harrington) sent in orbit to investigate a space station and determine the fate of its crew. Booth says that while Outreach plays off events from the 1960's, the game takes place a few decades later to allow for the existence of a full space station. Pixel Spill values historical accuracy above all else. Archival footage and historical designs were referenced during development. The composition was made using actual Soviet-era synthesizers, creating a soundtrack that captures the authentic sound of the period. There are no jetpacks – Soviet cosmonauts didn’t have them at the time – so players must push themselves off objects to move around. “It’s literally set in 1986. All of the technology is era-specific.,” Booth explained. “The space station is based on pictures of the real thing. You can look at the two side by side and you probably couldn’t tell the difference apart from the fact that one’s a game.” While Outreach can be classified as walking simulator sub-genre, Booth refers to it as a “floating simulator” due to the zero gravity exploration. The unique control scheme took a fair bit of trial and error for me to adapt to. One shoulder trigger pushes forward while the other halts movement. Moving the left analog stick spins your view. I bounced against the station like a pinball before I got comfortable enough to navigate the station somewhat competently. Although movement felt strange and mildly nauseating, it did a decent job of selling the sensation of being suspended in zero gravity. You might think Outreach would be a perfect fit for VR. However, Booth cites the occasionally stomach-turning traversal as the primary reason Outreach won’t be coming to headsets. “It works [in VR], but don’t do it. We’d have to ship it with a branded sick bag.” After receiving my orders from my commander, I set out on the search for the crew. I soar from room to room, inspecting floating objects including letters and audio tapes, which can be played on a recorder. Booth promises that although the game is story-focused, Outreach will feature more gameplay than the average walking simulator thanks to richer mechanics, puzzles, and mini-games. At one point, I interacted with a terminal that featured a working game of Pong. After exploring the pods and finding no trace of the crew, only one area remains for inspection. Unfortunately, I break the latch off the door trying to open it, leaving me locked out. The only way around is to exit the station and reach the area from the outside. This is where Outreach’s intensity took really off. Since jetpacks aren’t a thing, the only way to make my way across the outside of the station was by a series of rungs on the station’s hull. The process involved kicking myself off a platform and carefully steering myself close enough to a rung to grab. It was an extremely nerve-wracking segment thanks to how little control you have in maneuverability and the intimidating ambiance of space. Unlike many walking simulators, players can die in Outreach. In order to allow this, Pixel Spill needed to tweak the facts a bit. “Historically, you would have a tether that would connect you to the station,” Booth said. But we took that out. It’s kind of one of the only things we don’t do realistically because we wanted that fear of death.” Missing a rung and veering into orbit led to a very intense scene of the character quickly panicking as he realized he’d be helplessly hovering for the rest of his life. That emotional performance completely sold the terror of being stranded in space and only raised my anxiety about screwing up. I held my breath with every leap to a new handhold. After a few more trips to the scary death scene, I finally reached my destination, where the demo concluded. I welcomed the chance to calm my nerves, but I felt I’d just gotten the hang of the controls enough to inspire me to play more. On top of being an effective thriller, Outreach feels like it could be a great period piece of 1980's space travel thanks to its painstaking attention to detail. Most importantly, I left my play session wanting answers to the game's primary questions. What exactly happened on this ship? Are any members of the crew alive, and if so, where are they? These answers will have to wait until later this fall when Outreach launches for PC and Mac. View full article
  8. Outreach takes the narrative-focused space exploration of titles like Adr1ft and injects a hefty does of historical accuracy and an unshakable eeriness. Pixel Spill’s four-man team has been cranking away at the project for about two years, and during E3 last week I got to play the game's unnerving first 20 minutes. “I love sci-fi. I watch Star Trek on my lunch breaks,” James Booth, producer and writer, said. “But something I wanted to do differently with Outreach, I wanted it to be steeped in the history of space travel rather than being alternate history or future.” Outreach draws inspiration from the space race between the then-Soviet Union and the United States and how the Soviets beat the Americans by sending the first human, Yuri Gagarin, into space. Chiefly, Outreach explores the “lost cosmonaut” conspiracy theory that alleges that prior to Gagarin, the Soviets secretly launched cosmonauts into space. However, all of them perished and the government covered up the mission. Additionally, espionage films such as The Hunt for Red October provided further influence. Set in 1986, players control a lone Soviet cosmonaut (voiced by The Wolf Among Us’ Adam Harrington) sent in orbit to investigate a space station and determine the fate of its crew. Booth says that while Outreach plays off events from the 1960's, the game takes place a few decades later to allow for the existence of a full space station. Pixel Spill values historical accuracy above all else. Archival footage and historical designs were referenced during development. The composition was made using actual Soviet-era synthesizers, creating a soundtrack that captures the authentic sound of the period. There are no jetpacks – Soviet cosmonauts didn’t have them at the time – so players must push themselves off objects to move around. “It’s literally set in 1986. All of the technology is era-specific.,” Booth explained. “The space station is based on pictures of the real thing. You can look at the two side by side and you probably couldn’t tell the difference apart from the fact that one’s a game.” While Outreach can be classified as walking simulator sub-genre, Booth refers to it as a “floating simulator” due to the zero gravity exploration. The unique control scheme took a fair bit of trial and error for me to adapt to. One shoulder trigger pushes forward while the other halts movement. Moving the left analog stick spins your view. I bounced against the station like a pinball before I got comfortable enough to navigate the station somewhat competently. Although movement felt strange and mildly nauseating, it did a decent job of selling the sensation of being suspended in zero gravity. You might think Outreach would be a perfect fit for VR. However, Booth cites the occasionally stomach-turning traversal as the primary reason Outreach won’t be coming to headsets. “It works [in VR], but don’t do it. We’d have to ship it with a branded sick bag.” After receiving my orders from my commander, I set out on the search for the crew. I soar from room to room, inspecting floating objects including letters and audio tapes, which can be played on a recorder. Booth promises that although the game is story-focused, Outreach will feature more gameplay than the average walking simulator thanks to richer mechanics, puzzles, and mini-games. At one point, I interacted with a terminal that featured a working game of Pong. After exploring the pods and finding no trace of the crew, only one area remains for inspection. Unfortunately, I break the latch off the door trying to open it, leaving me locked out. The only way around is to exit the station and reach the area from the outside. This is where Outreach’s intensity took really off. Since jetpacks aren’t a thing, the only way to make my way across the outside of the station was by a series of rungs on the station’s hull. The process involved kicking myself off a platform and carefully steering myself close enough to a rung to grab. It was an extremely nerve-wracking segment thanks to how little control you have in maneuverability and the intimidating ambiance of space. Unlike many walking simulators, players can die in Outreach. In order to allow this, Pixel Spill needed to tweak the facts a bit. “Historically, you would have a tether that would connect you to the station,” Booth said. But we took that out. It’s kind of one of the only things we don’t do realistically because we wanted that fear of death.” Missing a rung and veering into orbit led to a very intense scene of the character quickly panicking as he realized he’d be helplessly hovering for the rest of his life. That emotional performance completely sold the terror of being stranded in space and only raised my anxiety about screwing up. I held my breath with every leap to a new handhold. After a few more trips to the scary death scene, I finally reached my destination, where the demo concluded. I welcomed the chance to calm my nerves, but I felt I’d just gotten the hang of the controls enough to inspire me to play more. On top of being an effective thriller, Outreach feels like it could be a great period piece of 1980's space travel thanks to its painstaking attention to detail. Most importantly, I left my play session wanting answers to the game's primary questions. What exactly happened on this ship? Are any members of the crew alive, and if so, where are they? These answers will have to wait until later this fall when Outreach launches for PC and Mac.
  9. From the album E3 2017

  10. From the album E3 2017

  11. From the album E3 2017

  12. Though I’ve only dabbled in virtual reality since it hit the market, I haven’t played or seen much to get me truly enthused with the concept. That was until I gave Blasters of the Universe a go during E3. The project began as a game jam between an artist and developer at studio Secret Location before larger vision focused on bringing the challenging and reflex-focused bullet hell genre to first-person VR. So far, I believe Secret Location is one the right track. Blasters of the Universe got my adrenaline racing like few VR experiences I’ve encountered. Playing with the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers, I held a gun in my right hand and a shield in my left. One of two loadouts were available. One was big, powerful gun paired with a durable shield and a missile barrage special attack. The other was a smaller gun with faster firing rate that can split into a pair of firearms as a special attack. It also came with a smaller shield that deflects bullets back at enemies. I opted for the former. The full experience will boast full weapon customization with players outfitting arms with a selection of parts (like a laser sight) and modifier, such as bullets that rebound off walls. Shields also come in different types, such as one that can be split into three static barriers to take cover behind. Soon after I plunged into the neon-tinted techno world, a squad of robots and weird floating heads converged upon me from all sides and opened fire. The player’s head is the only area that receives damage, so identifying gaps in the elaborate bullet patterns and aligning your noggin so that it slips through is crucial. Shields block a limited number of attacks before it has to recharge, meaning players must be mindful of when to block and when to dodge. The opening minutes saw me getting wailed on from above and blindsided elsewhere since I kept focusing only on what was in front of me. After taking a rain of bullets to the face, I learned to fully scout my surroundings. Before long, I found a nice rhythm of bobbing and weaving around bullets, throwing up my shield to catch incoming attacks, and blasting enemies into oblivion. I even crossed my arms at points for maximum style points. The sensation felt extremely cool and empowering–it really felt like my entire being against the world, and I licked my chops at each new wave that dared to challenge me. Taking damage and interrupting a great groove feels devastating in traditional bullet hell games and it’s even more jarring here with bullets hitting you square in the face and halting everything for about a second. However, this only got my blood pumping more as I immediately wanted revenge against my polygonal transgressors. This was my first time using the Touch controllers, and they felt comfortable and sported great responsiveness. The level’s boss was a large, teleporting robot that unloaded missiles like no tomorrow. My defensive skills got a serious run for their money, and the boss' constant warping between positions made it a challenging foe to take down. I eventually toppled it with the help of my handy missile barrages. Once I took off the headset and returned to reality, I needed to catch a breather but wanted nothing more than to jack back in and keep blasting. Blasters of the Universe will feature four campaign levels, each with their own endless version for players to return to and fight for bragging rights across the cross-platform leaderboard rankings. Per the norm with bullet hell games, the challenge raises exponentially as the game progresses (to my surprise, difficulty was scaled back in my decidedly tough demo). Despite the difficulty, I had a very fun time with Blasters of the Universe. If you want to try it for yourself, the game is available now on Steam Early Access for Oculus Rift and Vive. The full release is slated for later this year. View full article
  13. Though I’ve only dabbled in virtual reality since it hit the market, I haven’t played or seen much to get me truly enthused with the concept. That was until I gave Blasters of the Universe a go during E3. The project began as a game jam between an artist and developer at studio Secret Location before larger vision focused on bringing the challenging and reflex-focused bullet hell genre to first-person VR. So far, I believe Secret Location is one the right track. Blasters of the Universe got my adrenaline racing like few VR experiences I’ve encountered. Playing with the Oculus Rift and Touch controllers, I held a gun in my right hand and a shield in my left. One of two loadouts were available. One was big, powerful gun paired with a durable shield and a missile barrage special attack. The other was a smaller gun with faster firing rate that can split into a pair of firearms as a special attack. It also came with a smaller shield that deflects bullets back at enemies. I opted for the former. The full experience will boast full weapon customization with players outfitting arms with a selection of parts (like a laser sight) and modifier, such as bullets that rebound off walls. Shields also come in different types, such as one that can be split into three static barriers to take cover behind. Soon after I plunged into the neon-tinted techno world, a squad of robots and weird floating heads converged upon me from all sides and opened fire. The player’s head is the only area that receives damage, so identifying gaps in the elaborate bullet patterns and aligning your noggin so that it slips through is crucial. Shields block a limited number of attacks before it has to recharge, meaning players must be mindful of when to block and when to dodge. The opening minutes saw me getting wailed on from above and blindsided elsewhere since I kept focusing only on what was in front of me. After taking a rain of bullets to the face, I learned to fully scout my surroundings. Before long, I found a nice rhythm of bobbing and weaving around bullets, throwing up my shield to catch incoming attacks, and blasting enemies into oblivion. I even crossed my arms at points for maximum style points. The sensation felt extremely cool and empowering–it really felt like my entire being against the world, and I licked my chops at each new wave that dared to challenge me. Taking damage and interrupting a great groove feels devastating in traditional bullet hell games and it’s even more jarring here with bullets hitting you square in the face and halting everything for about a second. However, this only got my blood pumping more as I immediately wanted revenge against my polygonal transgressors. This was my first time using the Touch controllers, and they felt comfortable and sported great responsiveness. The level’s boss was a large, teleporting robot that unloaded missiles like no tomorrow. My defensive skills got a serious run for their money, and the boss' constant warping between positions made it a challenging foe to take down. I eventually toppled it with the help of my handy missile barrages. Once I took off the headset and returned to reality, I needed to catch a breather but wanted nothing more than to jack back in and keep blasting. Blasters of the Universe will feature four campaign levels, each with their own endless version for players to return to and fight for bragging rights across the cross-platform leaderboard rankings. Per the norm with bullet hell games, the challenge raises exponentially as the game progresses (to my surprise, difficulty was scaled back in my decidedly tough demo). Despite the difficulty, I had a very fun time with Blasters of the Universe. If you want to try it for yourself, the game is available now on Steam Early Access for Oculus Rift and Vive. The full release is slated for later this year.
  14. Ubisoft Toronto unveiled an action-adventure space shooter titled Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Set in a “massive, open living star system,” players construct custom starships from a variety of collectible parts to explore space and visit seven unique planets in search of ancient secrets and confront outlaws. The kicker is that not only are there in-game ship parts, but physical parts as well. The trailer shows players assembling miniature model ships by hand and docking them to to the controller, meaning it may have some sort of toys-to-life component. Starlink: Battle for Atlas is slated to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in the fall of next year. Ubisoft Toronto has promised more surprises in the coming months. View full article
  15. Ubisoft Toronto unveiled an action-adventure space shooter titled Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Set in a “massive, open living star system,” players construct custom starships from a variety of collectible parts to explore space and visit seven unique planets in search of ancient secrets and confront outlaws. The kicker is that not only are there in-game ship parts, but physical parts as well. The trailer shows players assembling miniature model ships by hand and docking them to to the controller, meaning it may have some sort of toys-to-life component. Starlink: Battle for Atlas is slated to hit PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch in the fall of next year. Ubisoft Toronto has promised more surprises in the coming months.
  16. Upon entering the arid and scenic Sand Kingdom (after turning down a romp through New Donk City), I decide to visit the local shop. I pursue its wares and notice a snazzy black suit and matching fedora up for sale. How can I resist? I drop my hard-earned coins and within moments, Mario’s stomping on goombas dressed as the world’s most adorable mob boss. That’s just an example of Super Mario Odyssey’s delightful strangeness. After getting my hands on the hotly anticipated title during E3 2017, I’m itching for another chance to return to the plumber's wackiest outing in years. Mario’s new adventure takes place far away from the Mushroom Kingdom. Joining him is Cappy, a sentient top hat somewhat resembling a Boo, who resides within Mario’s cap. I played Odyssey using the twin Joycon configuration. Swinging both Joycons up in the air, down to the floor, or in a horizontal circle sends Cappy flying like a Frisbee in the chosen direction. Players can even manipulate Cappy’s trajectory by tilting the controllers mid-flight, allowing for quick adjustments. Motion controls felt very responsive, and tossing Cappy around is strongly reminiscent to lobbing the wrench in the Ratchet & Clank games, functioning as both an effective long-range attack and a useful method of snagging distant collectibles. Speaking of collecting, Mario hunts new Kingdom Coins in addition to the traditional gold coins. These purple-colored currency are kingdom specific, meaning they can only be spent within the world they occupy. The Nintendo representative manning my demo informed me that there were a hundred of these coins in the Sand Kingdom, which I imagine will be the case for every world. Kingdom coins are spent in stores to buy items such as health and clothing, such as the Sand Kingdom’s sombrero. Additionally, green moons have replaced the signature gold stars as Odyssey’s primary collectible. If you've seen any of the bizarre gameplay videos, you know that throwing Cappy at other characters lets Mario possess them and gain their unique talents. I hijacked a Bullet Bill which allowed me to soar past platforming segments and even reach a moon stranded on a distant pillar. However, Mario can only stay in Bullet Bill form for about 15 seconds before it explodes, reverting him back to normal. My Nintendo rep proposed a trip to a secret area, an offer I promptly accepted. She led me to a hidden sand vortex that transported to a platforming gauntlet that reminded me of Super Mario Sunshine’s secret areas. This world consisted of a series of slippery, narrow ice bridges. Waiting at the end of each pathway were bounce pads that led to higher, more difficult frozen platforms. My mastery of the controls was pushed to its limit here. I had a tough time adjusting the camera using the right stick while simultaneously spinning the remotes to attack without veering off the edge. It’s far too early to tell if Odyssey’s control scheme is flawed, but it did take getting used to. After I escaped my frozen hell I met Jaxi the Taxi, a sphinx that can give Mario a lift to almost anywhere in the level. Jaxi accelerates on his own while players steer. Controlling Jaxi was easier said than done as he sprinted like a wild horse while I fought to aim his trajectory. I eventually got him to drop me back on the main path as I continued my trek towards my goal: an inverted pyramid. One of the neatest mechanics showcased in the demo were the 2D NES segments. Echoing the wall painting ability from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, entering special pipes protruding from walls transforms Mario into his 8-bit sprite. That surface then forms the canvas for a classic-style platforming segment as players hop on pixelated blocks and confront vintage versions of enemies. The effect is like playing a scrolling animated wallpaper–even my gangster suit made the 8-bit transition in a nice attention to detail. I used this ability to make my way up a towering pillar, evading Bullet Bill sprites along the way. Upon reaching the top I was tasked with locating five shards in order to open up the overturned pyramid. Unfortunately, my 10-minute time limit expired before I could enter its mysterious walls. Overall, the entire level felt straight out of Super Mario 64. The Sand Kingdom's design resembled the open hub-style worlds of that game, filled with side diversions that I could explore at my leisure. The traditional three-hit health bar returns, ditching Mario 3D Land/World’s incorporation of mushroom health into the 3D format. If you loved Mario 64 or Sunshine, you’ll likely get a kick out of Super Mario Odyssey. I walked away from my session wanting nothing more than to barricade myself in a room and play the full game. The possession feature opens a wealth of gameplay possibilities as players are no longer constrained by Mario’s specific skillset. Using the Bullet Bill to skip platforming segments almost felt like I was breaking the game but Odyssey accommodated for it. I'm curious to see how the rest of the design caters to what could be a plethora of different abilities. Once I'd gotten a handle on the controls, platforming felt as polished as you would expect from a mainline Mario title. Perhaps most of all, I simply can't get enough of the game's surreal premise and tone. As the catchy theme song suggests, Super Mario Odyssey should be a wild and wacky time when it launches for Nintendo Switch October 27. View full article