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Marcus Stewart
The mountain of battle royale games continues to rise with Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds dueling at the summit. For developers beginning the climb, reaching the top feels nigh impossible. However, Fear the Wolves by Vostok Games aims to establish a cozy, nuclear-powered base camp near the top instead. 
 
Fear the Wolves comes from the minds behind the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise. That series’ harsh survival elements and bleak setting bleeds into their new battle royale. 100-person bouts take place in the infamous Chernobyl nuclear zone. Gameplay also takes a decidedly hardcore approach. Speaking with Oleg Ruslan, a key mind behind the project, he describes it as, “less arcadey stuff, no cartoonish things. More realistic, more hardcore–a grim reality that sucks.”
 
Unlike other battle royale games, Fear the Wolves gives players a lot more to worry about than the 99 other combatants. Chernobyl contains irradiated areas that harm players who lack protective equipment. On top of that are Anomalies, danger zones on the map that further challenge the player. 
“Some of them are invisible, some of them are pretty interesting to really understand and explore how you deal with them.” says Ruslan. “For example, a type of Anomaly which hurts you if you're standing but if you're running you're fine. You need to try and find a way out of it, and [these are] little puzzles that the players will need to solve.” 
 

 
In another twist, a dynamic day and night cycle along with changing weather conditions directly affect gameplay. Ruslan explains “ For example, in strong wind you can not shoot very accurately. Your bullet physics [are] affected or in dense fog you cannot see other players very well.” If the elements weren’t enough to deal with, mutated animals such as vicious wolf packs stalk players throughout the match. Ruslan states this adds another layer of unpredictability to matches. Players who run into these beasts without the proper weapons will become a gruesome meal long before any human does the job.  
 
With added dangers, however, come new ways to emerge victorious. In addition to winning matches by being the last person standing, players can instead opt to hop aboard an escape helicopter. The lucky soul who manages to climb aboard this single-seat aircraft automatically wins the match–regardless of the number of players left. The helicopter only appears during the final leg of the round and gives new meaning to the phrase, “get to the chopper!” It also struck me as one of Fear the Wolve’s most intriguing features. 
 
“That's our little touch that will make it a little different experience, we think.” says Oleg. “Instead of people sitting in the bush [and] waiting for someone else to snipe and just win the match, here it's a possibility to actually just avoid the company. Anyone can be elusive and just jump on that helicopter and escape the map and win. So this definitely gives more room for tactics and possibility for winning the game.” 
 

 
Vostok Games also want to incorporate streaming features into Fear the Wolves. Twitch and Mixer users viewing matches in progress will be able to vote in real-time which in-game mechanics occur such as the weather effects. This appears to be a work-in-progress, with Oleg stating that the team has plans to expand on audience integration in the future. 
 
At the moment, Fear the Wolves will feature solo, survival, and squad play. An unannounced fourth mode will, in Oleg’s words, be “fresh to the genre”. All in all, the game has a lot going on between modes and gameplay, and I asked how the team decides when its doing too much and to scale back. Oleg told me that while the studio has plenty of ideas, they’re currently focused on how players react to what’s already present. Everything Vostok Games does must be “in line” with the community’s preferences. 
 
Speaking of community, Vostok wants Fear the Wolves to find its own, hardcore niche in the deepening pool of battle royale titles. It’d be nice to supplant Fortnite and PUBG as top dog, of course, but Oleg believes merely copying the competition would be insane as that would require crafting a product that’s twice their quality–a tall order for any team.  “It makes sense to be different, and offer the market something different, and see if people have [a] response.” explains Ruslan. “...We would go crazy headbanging against the wall fighting against guys like Fortnite.”
 
 
We won’t have to wait too long to see how Fear the Wolves fares. The game enters Steam Early Access this month and the full PC release is scheduled for later this year. Vostok Games plans to launch the console version in 2019. So far, the game offers a slew of unique ideas and a hardcore appeal. I’m keen to see if Fear the Wolves can take off like its opportune escape helicopter. 
 
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Jack Gardner
Dontnod, the developers of Vampyr and Life Is Strange, released The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit for free just a few days ago. The narrative adventure follows Chris, a young boy who lives with his dad, throughout an afternoon of his life. It has a lot of heart, occasionally channeling the spirit of Calvin & Hobbes, and also quite a bit of darkness. It walks a thin line between the joyful attitudes of youth and the stark realities of adulthood, with all of the trauma and pain that entails.   
 
Sit down, kick back, and listen as we parse out the details of this interesting lead up to Life Is Strange 2. A correction: At the end of the episode, there's some mention of this free piece of content being the first episode of Life Is Strange 2 - that is not the case. It's a free prequel to the events of the five episodes that comprise the full game. The first episode of Life Is Strange 2 will release on September 27. 
 

 
Outro music: Kirby's Epic Yarn 'Blue Lava, Grass Landing' by The Hit Points (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03754)
 
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it!
 
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
 
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Zak Wojnar
One year ago, publisher Activision released the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, a remake of the original three PlayStation classics with next-gen graphics. Gameplay-wise, the Crash Trilogy attempted to perfectly replicate the original games, and it came extremely close, but ultimately fell short of making the PlayStation 1 originals completely obsolete. A few seemingly minor changes – such as adjustments to enemy hitboxes and the ill-advised choice to use the jump physics from Crash 3 in all three games –  kept the remake from fully living up to its potential. Still, developer Vicarious Visions put in a ton of work to make the game feel authentic to the hardcore fans, and for the most part, they succeeded.
 
Sony's other big 1990s franchise was Spyro the Dragon. Like Crash, Spyro starred in a trilogy of universally acclaimed PlayStation games (Spyro, Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage, and Spyro: Year of the Dragon) before fading into obscurity during the PS2 era. In the long run, the little purple dragon is arguably more successful than Crash; while the plucky marsupial had been largely absent from the gaming scene following the failure of 2008's Crash: Mind over Mutant, Spyro managed to eke out a measure of success in the cult favorite Legend of Spyro trilogy and as a key player in the best-selling Skylanders series. Now, Activision is wisely bringing the character back to his roots with a remake of Insomniac's original titles, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, developed by Skylanders developer Toys for Bob.
 
Like with Crash, old-school fans have significant questions about the gameplay of this new take on Spyro's classic adventures. Will it feel absolutely perfect to the PS1 originals? At E3 2018, I got extensive hands-on time with two levels from the original 1998 title, remade for PS4, and came away with some distinct impressions which may be surprising to longtime fans of the franchise.
 
As a lifelong fan of Spyro's original adventures by Insomniac (I can proudly say I never played anything after 2000's Year of the Dragon, the third and final game on this collection), I knew that I would notice if everything wasn't absolutely perfect, just like how I noticed when the Crash Bandicoot trilogy was good, or even great, but not quite perfect compared to its progenitor. Upon getting my hands on the controller and booting up Toasty, the first boss level from Spyro's original adventure, the first thing I noticed was how gorgeous it all looked. Spyro's character model, in particular, is a sight to behold. Stylishly angular and youthfully emotive, the pint-sized dragon, simply put, has never looked better. Similarly, the environments, while apparently geometrically identical to their PS1 counterparts, are full of tiny visual details which add up to a fully believable environment. With a tap of the circle button, Spyro shoots a short geyser of fire from his mouth. The flames, while still as cartoonishly stylized as the rest of the revamped visuals, have a deviously visceral impact; they light the environment in a way which was simply impossible back in 1998, and they even scorch the grass in front of Spyro, to say nothing of what a plume of flame can do to his numerous and dangerous enemies.
 
Of course, Spyro's newfound visual flair doesn't mean much if the gameplay doesn't stack up to the original. In that respect, unlike Crash Bandicoot, Spyro Reignited Trilogy doesn't attempt to play exactly like the original. Back in the PS1 days, Spyro felt very heavy, a bit slow, and had a noticeably wide arc when it came to turning, making sudden changes in direction a bit difficult. It wasn't insurmountable, and shouldn't even be described as a fault; it was just the way Spyro moved. He was different from Crash, from Mario, from Banjo, and all the other 1990s platforming heroes, who each had their own respective and distinct "feel."
 
Immediately upon nudging the analog stick forward, I noticed how different Spyro feels from his heyday. At first, it was a bit distracting, being able to turn on a dime and run circles around enemies, but I quickly realized a shocking truth: Spyro Reignited doesn't play like the original game; it plays better. Back in the day, camera control was mapped to the shoulder buttons, which was the standard, but would be downright archaic today. Now, the camera is controlled with the right analog stick, which lets the player see more of the environment, and see it more quickly than ever before.
 
The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and I could sense my enhanced control as I tackled the enemies in the Toasty stage. As I looked around me, I saw other E3 attendees getting mauled by the big grey dogs who populate the levels. I don't blame them, since those enemies are notoriously pesky, especially to untrained players who haven't yet realized that it takes two bursts of flame to bring them down, and they always counterattack after the first hit. On the PS1, it took a while to figure out the rhythm of the movement, and it was always tough to get out of range of their counter. Here, it was as easy as pulling back on the left analog stick. Spyro's movement is stunningly smooth and I was weaving through the level with a newfound fluidity and speed which is entirely different from the much heavier motion of the original. It's a bold change, but having played it myself, I must admit, it was the right move.
 
After making short work of Toasty, I moved on to Tree Tops, one of the more infamous levels in the first game, due to its supercharge ramps and tough-to-reach secret areas. In this level, the visual acuity of this next-gen remastering is even more apparent than in Toasty. The dark, earthy palette of the level, which left much to the imagination in the original, really comes alive in this remake. In particular, the enemies, originally rendered as somewhat nondescript blobs of polygons, look like actual creatures this time around.
 

 
Testing out the supercharge ramps, it only took me a couple of tries to make it to the secret area on top of the final island, and I was pleased by how smooth the controls felt... Although I had a bit of trouble knowing when to transition from the jump to a glide, leading to a couple of deaths before I found the precise moment to get the most distance out of the supercharge jump.
 
The main collectable in the game is trapped Elder Dragons. Trapped in cages of green crystal, Spyro breaks them out of their prison, at which point they give him a brief word of advice before disappearing. While the original game had a degree of variety in dragon designs, assigning different body types to each of the first five worlds (the sixth, Gnasty's World, features a mixture from the previous settings), Reignited appears to be taking things a step further, making every single dragon unique and full of character. In the original, some of the dragons lacked fun dialogue, instead offering a simple "Thank you for releasing me!" It's unclear if that will be retained in this remake, or if any new interactions will be written for those dragons.
 
At this point, I'm happy to report that Spyro Reignited Trilogy feels good, and I can't wait to get my hands on the complete game. I'm eager to embark on an odyssey through the worlds of Spyro, Ripto's Rage, and Year of the Dragon, combining my nostalgic memories of classic settings and enemies with the remake's significantly revamped gameplay mechanics. Of course, there are still questions remaining to be answered. Will Year of the Dragon's additional playable characters be as smooth to play as Spyro? Agent 9's first person shooter levels, notably, haven't aged very well. What about the numerous minigames from parts two and three, like Ice Hockey, boxing with Bentley the Yeti, and the numerous attractions in Dragon Shores, the bonus level from Ripto's Rage? Will these all be preserved/remastered for this new release? Spyro 2 opened and closed each level with a brief cutscene. Will they be remastered here? Year of the Dragon suffered from lacking these fun vignettes. Will developer Toys for Bob be bold enough to unify the sequels by creating brand new cutscenes for Year of the Dragon? One can only hope.
 
One final question involves Year of the Dragon's main collectable, Dragon Eggs, which would hatch upon being rescued. While they each possessed unique names, many designs and animations were frequently repeated, robbing the baby dragons of their individuality. Will this HD remake go the extra mile and make sure every baby dragon feels like a unique character with their own custom animations?
 
 
So far, all of Spyro Reignited Trilogy's marketing has focused on the original game, with only brief, fleeting glimpses of the sequels. Hopefully, they'll peel back the curtain soon. They have to; after all, the game is slated for release on September 21 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
 
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Marcus Stewart
War Clash by MeoGames pits armies of antlered humans, owl-warriors, and other crazy creatures against each other in a blend of real-time strategy with tower defense. The colorful fantasy title features a varied cast of characters, while emphasizing versatile gameplay, in hopes of making a splash in the sea of mobile games. To find out how the game was shaping up, I strapped on my general’s helmet and led my troops through a full battle during E3. 
 
A single battle in War Clash lasts between 8 to 10 minutes. That feels like a good length for relaxed sessions but perhaps too long to squeeze in quick rounds on the go. The ebb and flow of skirmishes consists of fighting down lanes, destroying defenses along the way, and toppling the enemy’s spawn point for victory This won’t be new to veterans of the genre. For rookies like myself, however, War Clash proved enjoyable and, more importantly, easy to grasp. 
 
I have limited RTS experience but the simplified touch controls helped ease me in. Building bases and guiding units was a simple as tapping the screen. After sprouting some archers and swordsmen, I took the fight to my AI opponent. It felt satisfying to watch my tiny minions gradually overcome their adversaries. I eventually earned enough resources to unlock a Hero unit. These powerful, and significantly larger, warriors can quickly turn the tide of battle. I summoned a female hero who wasted no time laying waste to anyone unlucky enough to cross her path. Other units include scouts that can travel ahead to reveal enemies hidden under a shadowy blanket. 
 

 
War Clash emphasizes evolving strategy by mixing up army loadouts. It offers a myriad of stylized fantasy races to build armies from, including dragons, bear warriors, and sentient trees. MeoGames recommend players not only create formations based on their own strengths but that also counteract their opponent’s. Of course, you can always just pick the creatures that look the coolest; I’m partial to the fighting bears myself. 
 
Player have several modes of play to choose from. A single-player campaign guides players through the intricacies of battle, making it an ideal destination for first-timers. Battle Mode pits human players across the globe against each other in either 1-on-1 or 3-on-3 encounters. Skilled players can climb the ladder in the ranked Colosseum mode. Additionally, players can form guilds to play with friends.
 
The game is completely free-to-play, and MeoGames stresses that unlike some other titles, War Clash won’t be pay-to-win. Instead, the game relies on paid cosmetic items, such as new outfits/equipment, to make its money back. These optional charges allow for high level of customization, giving players license to create distinct-looking armies.
 

 
Overall, I had a good time with War Clash. You’d never mistake me for an RTS diehard, but I found myself entering a fun groove toward the end of my session. Whether or not it can make a dent in the seemingly impenetrable mobile market remains to be seen. But if you’re a RTS fan in need of a fix, I think War Clash is worth giving a look when it launches in July for iOS and Android devices.
 
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Jack Gardner
A new hero has joined the Overwatch cast that might lack in physical size but brings plenty of firepower along with him. Hammond the Hamster comes from the same lunar colony as Winston where his nightly forays and augmented brain growth around the base led to him becoming a master mechanic. He escaped the colony along with Winston, landing in the Australian outback. There, he modified his escape capsule into a combat mech, gaining notoriety in the robotic fighting arena of Junkertown. After fighting his way up the ranks, Hammond earned enough money to begin traveling the world in search of adventure under his arena name, Wrecking Ball.
 
Wrecking Ball has been designed as a tanky bruiser suited for picking off weakened enemies in the backline. He relies on a set of quad cannons to provide his main damaging moves and can transform into a rolling ball of doom to travel quickly along the ground. But don't feel too save because you play more vertically minded champions, as Hammond can use a grappling claw to swing to different areas, doing damage and knocking back enemies encountered along the way. While airborne, he's capable of performing a piledriver that slams his mech into the ground, damaging enemies in an area and launching them into the sky. He can also create shields that increases in strength proportionally to how many enemies are around. And when his ultimate reaches its full charge, Wrecking Ball can lay down a large area of proximity mines for area denial - or drop them on a group of enemies from above for immediate damage.  
 
 
For Overwatch players eager to get their hands on Hammond as soon as possible, he's already gone live on the Overwatch Public Test Region. To join the PTR, all you have to do is own Overwatch on PC, go to the game in the Battle.net client, change to PTR: Overwatch in the region/account menu, and install the PTR. If you don't care to download the testing version of the game at the moment or don't own Overwatch on PC, you won't have to wait too long to see Wrecking Ball wrecking chumps in the live version of the game. 
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
Human Head Studios came onto many gamer's radars in 2006 with the release of Prey. With a strong emphasis on Cherokee culture and outside-the-box shooting mechanics, the game was different than anything that had come before; in many ways its success hasn't been duplicated since. The sequel, Prey 2, was cancelled after a very troubled period of development, leaving the team to go back to the drawing board. The company decided to go both forward with a completely new project, see the fascinating debut of The Quiet Man, and backward to revisit a project that had long been in the works at Human Head. While Prey put the studio on the map, its history goes back farther than 2006. Rune, an action adventure title that takes place across the realms of Norse mythology, released at the turn of the millennium, and now the Wisconsin-based studio wants to return to their world of gods, magic, and mythological mayhem. 
 
I was able to sit down with the developers and an alpha build of the new Rune for about an hour, peppering them with questions. The experience kicked off with a character creation process where players can tweak an avatar to their hearts' content. Gender, skin color, scars, tattoos, all of the major customization options players have come to expect are included, along with all of the corresponding sliders that govern muscle mass and facial structure. Each newly minted Norse warrior must dedicate themselves to a deity of their choice: Odin, Thor, Freya, or Loki. 
 
Though Rune might lack Ragnarok in its name, the end times of its in-game world are at hand. The prophecy regarding the end of the world states that it must end with the death of gods. Loki, fearing his demise, has spirited himself away, prolonging the chaos of the apocalypse. In order to stop the end of all things, players must fight across the world of Midgard, gaining power and glory for their god while uncovering Loki's machinations. Of course, it's the apocalypse and the dead are rising to do battle, opportunists raid villages, and giants roam the lands searching for humans to crush.
 

 
While Rune can be played solo, the game has been designed to support up to 64 players running around a world at the same time. This will, ideally, lead to players cooperating or turning against one another while trying to bring glory to their gods. The world itself offers differently leveled sections that are suited to higher or lower level play, which should result in players of similar levels being pitted against one another. The build I played only had myself and one other person in it, so it's hard to specify exactly how social and gameplay interactions will shake out in the wild. 
 
Combat in Rune revolves around directional inputs. Holding forward while attacking creates a different move than holding to the side or backward and each melee weapon offers its own moveset. Players can also perform plunging attacks from above, use consumables like magic runes, or running attacks. Each weapon can be thrown at enemies, too. This can prove to be ineffective or very effective depending on the type of weapon thrown. These Norse warriors can even dismember an enemy with a strong attack and use that limb as a weapon. So, yes, you can beat an enemy to death with their own arm. This can also happen to the player, so take care not to lose your main combat arm (though this usually results in death, players can actually heal and survive such a wound)!
 
As players complete quests given to them by the gods, they will earn funeral coins that can be used to unlock skills for the levels they have accumulated so far. Those skills include the expected combat abilities and magic enhancements one might expect, but they also offer crafting recipes that enable players to build things like campfires, weapons, and ships. Sailing becomes a big part of exploring the world once players advance through the initial areas of the game. Though boats crafting begins with dinky rafts, players will eventually be able to build longships that can hold up to 8 players or even warships that house 16 players. These structures will be able to house ballisti to combat sea monsters and rival vessels.  
 
Surviving the environmental dangers of the world can prove to be as harrowing as the enemies that roam the land. Natural hazards like blizzards or meteor showers courtesy of Loki make surviving the world a harrowing and random experience. Savvy players will be able to take advantage of these survival challenges to defeat potent enemies. 
 
Players are encouraged to explore the world to find powerful artifacts and weapons. I managed to steal a longship and sailed to another island on the horizon. The island appeared to be an ancient fortress. As I explored the ruins, one of the developers assured me that normally a powerful giant would have been in that location to defend the mysterious sword thrust into the center of the structure. Of course, I stole the sword and made my way back to the ship to continue my adventures on the mainland. The sword I had found sliced through enemies that had previously proved to be formidable threats, downing even giants in one or two hits. There are many of these artifacts and tools hidden around the world, some in locations that don't even appear on the world map. 
 
 
Of course, Rune is still in alpha, so the occasional graphical glitches and draw distance goofs are forgivable. Some of the gameplay mechanics still feel a bit rough, with skill trees in need of expansion and some wonky physics, but at the end of the day Rune is about having awesome moments like climbing onto the thatched roof of a small fishing village hut and leaping onto two enemies with a spear, impaling both of them. Or, alternatively, fleeing from a giant while armed only with the arm of an undead warrior you used in a failed attempt to kill it. 
 
Rune entered its closed beta testing phase earlier this week. Players can enter to win access to the closed beta by signing up for Human Head's newsletter. The game will exit closed beta later this year and enter Early Access on Steam at which point players can go through the game solo or join dedicated PvP or PvE servers. Currently the team is focused on PC, but there's always the possibility of a console release. 
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
E3 2018 was a wild ride, to be sure. Last year, we brought you audio and video recaps of each day we spent at the show. This year, we tried to do that, but ran into some technical hurdles that made video impractical and audio tricky. We still recorded our impressions of the show each day, but we couldn't upload them to share with all of you... until now! 
 
We weren't able to upload our discussions recapping the reveals and experiences of E3 due to technical difficulties. However, we persevered and made the episodes anyway. Our third episode features Jack Gardner, Naomi Lugo, Marcus Stewart, and Zak Wojnar discussing the second day on the show floor. 
 

 
Outro music: Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow 'Dance Like Popcorn' by Guifrog (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03734)
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Jack Gardner
E3 2018 was a wild ride, to be sure. Last year, we brought you audio and video recaps of each day we spent at the show. This year, we tried to do that, but ran into some technical hurdles that made video impractical and audio tricky. We still recorded our impressions of the show each day, but we couldn't upload them to share with all of you... until now! 
 
We weren't able to upload our discussions recapping the reveals and experiences of E3 due to technical difficulties. However, we persevered and made the episodes anyway. Our second episode features Jack Gardner, Naomi Lugo, and Marcus Stewart discussing the first day on the show floor. 
 

 
Outro music: Sega Rally Championship 'Autos, Arps, & Minimoogs' by Txai (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03715)
 
Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!

Marcus Stewart
With jovial attitudes and company vignettes that resembled employee training videos at times, Bethesda’s theme of “Create” spotlighted the minds behind the games almost as prominently as the games themselves. That resulted in a lighthearted and fun presentation that was backed by several significant announcements. Bethesda touched on pretty much every major IP of its recent catalog, announcing a slew of sequels and updates. They even teased projects aimed at the next generation. 

Rage 2’s first big showing kicked off in the only way it could: a rowdy Andrew W.K. concert in front of a less raucous crowd of indifferent journalists. The musical performance fit the game’s fresh coat of zaniness. We got a look at the Mad Max-style vehicle shootouts and the arguably more chaotic on-foot shootouts. Say what you want about Rage 2’s semi-obnoxious absurdity, but this demo definitely raised eyebrows and the game already bleeds more personality than its predecessor ever did. 
 
The Elder Scrolls Legends calmed things down a bit. The digital trading card game will soon launch with overhauled visuals and comes to all consoles later this year. In more Elder Scrolls news. The Elder Scrolls Online has a new dungeon DLC on the way called Wolfhunter which centers on werewolves. Additionally, Murkmire, a story expansion set in Black Marsh, arrives later this year. 
 

 
A teaser for Doom Eternal took everyone to Hell (in a good way). Described as an “awesome, awesome new sequel to Doom”, it will have twice as many demons as the last game and takes place on an Earth overrun by Hell’s nastiest. Doom Eternal’s full reveal will take place at QuakeCon in August.
 
Speaking of Quake, Quake Champions competitions were announced for QuakeCon and DreamHack Winter. A week-long free trial for the game, currently in Steam Early Access, launched on June 10th. Those who downloaded that week got to continue playing free of charge after the trial expired. A new trailer wrapped things up, though we still don’t have a launch window for the final version. 
 

 
Arkane Studios announced a free Prey update that introduced three new modes: Story, New Game +, and Survival. A roguelike-style DLC called Mooncrash will change enemies, scenarios, and loot with each playthrough for “infinite” replayability. Both Mooncrash and the free update went live that night. Later this summer, Prey gets the hide-and-seek multiplayer mode Typhoon Hunter. It pits one player against five others posing as Mimics. 
More Wolfenstein is coming in the form of Wolfenstein: Youngblood. This standalone story stars BJ Blazkowicz’s twin daughters, now adults, battling Nazis in the 1980’s. Since there’s two characters, it can be played cooperatively with a buddy. Youngblood releases in 2019.  
 
Pete Hines returned to reveal a few virtual reality projects. First, Prey’s Typhoon Hunter, along with an unnamed puzzle-focused single-player, will be playable in VR. Furthemore, Wolfenstein: Cyber Pilot is a VR-exclusive spin-off about a hacker that hijacks Nazi war machines and turns them against their masters.
 

 
Todd Howard took the stage next. After warming up the crowd with a humorous summary of E3’s history, he then trolled viewers (and himself) with an ad for an Amazon Alexa, audio-only version of Skyrim. The twist: it actually exists. Howard then moved on to the big info dump of Fallout 76.
After showing the same trailer from the Xbox briefing, Howard discussed Vault 76’s premise. Players control a citizen chosen to spend 25 years in Vault 76 awaiting Reclamation Day, the day the vault opens. Todd showed a video of the vault dweller exiting the underground home into an untamed West Virginia. Fallout 76 features new rendering and lighting technology, allowing for increased details. West Virginia features six distinct regions filled with new creatures, some of which will be based on local folklore. 
 
Todd then revealed that Fallout 76 will be an entirely online experience filled with other human players. However, he quickly assured that it can be played solo (although the game will be tougher), and a main story will still be present. Though Fallout 76 will focus more on survival, Howard described it as a “softcore” experience. Players won’t lose progress, or their character, should they perish. Furthermore, characters won’t be tied to server and their progress carries with them no matter which players they decide to join up with. Worlds will be populated by dozens of human players rather than hundreds or thousands (Howard: “it’s the apocalypse. It’s not an amusement park”).
 
A video of Fallout 76’s building mechanics showed how players can build anything, then move their creations wherever they’d like. To combat threats, multiple active nuclear missile sites will litter the map, which players can use to nuke others to smithereens.  Finally, Howard announced a beta for Fallout 76 set for an unknown date, as well as a special Power Armor Edition filled with goodies. He concluded Fallout 76’s segment a release date: November 14 of this year.
 

 
Todd then announced the immediate availability of Fallout Shelter on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. He used that news to segue into the announcement of The Elder Scrolls: Blades. Described as a “pure Elder Scrolls experience”, its a console-quality title built for mobile platforms.Dungeons are both hand-crafted and procedurally generated, with touch-based combat. 
 
Blades features three modes of play as well as a town-building/sharing feature. Despite showing it off on mobile, The Elder Scrolls: Blades will come to consoles, PC, and VR devices and all versions will be connected. The game arrives this fall as a free download, though players can pre-register for it now.
 

 
Todd wrapped up things by teasing two big future projects. First up was the teaser trailer of the rumored Starfield. This sci-fi, next-generation  title will be Bethesda’s first new IP in 25 years. If that wasn’t enough, a teaser for The Elder Scrolls VI completed the double-whammy of huge announcements. Of note: Howard described the sixth entry as “the game after” Starfield. Given that Starfield was billed as a next-gen title, Elder Scrolls VI will likely be a long ways out. 
 
That wraps up Bethesda. They did a nice job highlighting not only their own internal IP, but also the works of its umbrella studios. Fallout and Elder Scrolls faithful have plenty to look forward to with Starfield as the another, mysterious silver lining. If those franchises aren't your jam, new entries in the Rage, Doom, Wolfenstein, and Prey franchises help cover additional bases. As someone who expected to hear about a new Doom OR Wolfenstein, as well as Starfield OR Elder Scrolls VI, this felt like Bethesda letting fans have their cake and eat it too. The humorous tone, albeit cheesy at times, also made for a lively briefing. Tell us what you thought about their briefing in the comments!
 
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Jack Gardner
Released during the height of Prequel Mania (which was a thing before they came out and reality set in), Star Wars Episode I: Racer quickly became one of the best selling sci-fi racing games of all-time. Racer managed to translate one of the most memorable scenes in the prequel films into a game full of a worlds never before seen in Star Wars, the thrill of speed, and plenty of flaming/exploding podracer engines. It might not have aged from its N64 days, but at the very least it's worthy of an honorable mention.
 
With schedules being what they are, sometimes coordinating a full episode of The Best Games Period can be difficult. When we can't have a proper discussion, we will be breaking off to do these shorter mini-casts, Honorable Mentions, to talk about fringe games that we might not otherwise be able to talk about on a full episode.
 
 
Outro music: Final Fantasy VII 'Cosmo' by MkVaff (http://ocremix.org/remix/OCR03750)
 
You can download or listen to the podcast over on Soundcloud, our hosting site, and iTunes. A YouTube version is available as well, so you can watch what we are talking about while we talk about it!
 
If you want to have your opinion heard on air, share your opinion in the comments, follow the show on Twitter, and participate in the weekly polls: @BestGamesPeriod 
 
New episodes of The Best Games Period will be released every Monday
 
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Zak Wojnar
The last time Square Enix held an E3 press conference was in 2015. When it was announced they'd be returning after a three-year absence, fans got excited... Perhaps unreasonably so. After all, the much-anticipated Final Fantasy VII remake was recently announced to be essentially rebooting its development cycle, so it was arguably unfair to expect that game to appear. Similarly, it proved to be way too early for a look at the upcoming Crystal Dynamics-developed Avengers title. Regardless, many were taken aback by the surprisingly short run time (only half an hour) of Square Enix's Nintendo Direct-style video presentation. Despite this, there were still some great nuggets of information and surprise announcements tucked away in the brief press briefing.
 
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
 
It's always tough to nail the ending of a trilogy, but we have faith that Crystal Dynamics can provide a satisfying conclusion to the origin story of Lara Croft, at least in terms of visuals and gameplay. While the story of the re-rebooted Tomb Raider games has proven divisive among lifelong fans of the franchise, few can complain about the winning mix of platforming, puzzle-solving, and engaging, cinematic combat offered by the new titles. And, of course, Camilla Luddington (Grey's Anatomy) is perfect as this version of Lara.
 
In addition to the return of Jonah from the previous two games in the form of some cutscene footage, the main hook of the Shadow of the Tomb Raider presentation was an extended gameplay demonstration which showed off the breathtaking graphics and enhanced stealth gameplay of the title. A closing sizzle reel featured all the high-adrenaline moments fans expect, including surprises like Lara battling a moray eel, swimming freely in underwater 3D environments, and – naturally – exploring tombs filled with ancient relics and priceless treasures.
 
Octopath Traveler
 
Square Enix's gorgeous Switch exclusive, Octopath Traveler, is nearing release. Described as an HD-2D game, Octopath Traveler combines the sprite-based work of SNES classics like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy VI and combines it with more realistically-styled backgrounds and distinctly modern post-processing and lighting effects. The final result is nothing less than striking, and it's easily one of the most distinct-looking games in recent memory. Hopefully it plays as well as it looks and offers deep RPG mechanics for all eight of its protagonists. We'll find out for sure when the title releases on July 13.
 

 
Final Fantasy XIV
 
It's been nearly five years since the disastrous launch of Final Fantasy XIV was completely rectified with the game-changing release of A Realm Reborn. To this day, FFXIV is celebrated as a veritable phoenix which rose from the ashes of its own hubris as one of the hottest, most addictive MMORPGs on the market, and Square Enix is continuing to support the profitable powerhouse with a continuous outpour of new content for Eorzean explorers to devour.
 
They showed off two significant additions, the first of which is Patch 4.3, "Under the Moonlight," which offers a ton of new quests, a new raid, and assorted quality of life improvements. All in all, it's a pretty standard update, if still satisfying for ravenous XIV fans. The other new event is far more provocative: a crossover with Monster Hunter World. Level 70 players who have completed the Stormblood quest will be able to take on the task of hunting one of Monster Hunter's signature creatures, the fearsome Rathalos. Meanwhile, Monster Hunter World players will gain access to exclusive armor sets courtesy of a new hunt: Final Fantasy's signature recurring powerhouse summon, Bahamut. The crossover is expected to launch sometime this summer, but no dates have been announced yet.
 
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
 
Dontnod have been keeping busy. Between the recently-launched Vampyr and their upcoming Life is Strange Season 2 and the mysterious Twin Mirror, they are juggling a great many high-profile projects. While Life is Strange 2 was a no-show at E3, they instead offered an adjacent spin-off, The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit, which expands the Life is Strange universe.
 
The new game stars Chris, a young boy with a vivid imagination, being raised by a single, widower father in Oregon. The trailer promises Life is Strange's signature mix of youthful whimsy and intimate characterization, though with perhaps a more childlike sense of wonder thanks to its ten-year-old protagonist. The biggest surprise about Captain Spirit is that it will be completely free when it launches on June 26.
 

 
Dragon Quest XI
 
Japanese players have had their hands on Dragon Quest XI since last Summer, but the epic RPG adventure is finally jumping shores and gearing up to debut in the West. While the game initially released on both Nintendo 3DS and PlayStation 4, it seems only the PS4 version is making the leap to American and European shores, in addition to a PC port.
 
Nevertheless, the localization of DQXI is a huge win for JRPG fans. Worldwide, Dragon Quest is second only to Final Fantasy in terms of role-playing prestige, and the game has already sold over three million copies in Japan alone. Hopefully, the Western release, due out September 4, will be the breakthrough hit the series has long been seeking. Nier: Automata and Yakuza 0 proved to be surprise hits in the United States, so why shouldn't Dragon Quest XI follow in their illustrious footsteps? Oh, and by the way, the Nier sequel is making the jump to Xbox One X in the form of the "Become as Gods Edition," which includes the DLC and offers 4K enhancements.
 
Babylon's Fall
 
Platinum Games are always working on something new and different, and their latest project, Babylon's Fall, looks to be right in their wheelhouse... And by that, we mean it looks bonkers, full of dense lore, and impossibly kinetic action. Unfortunately, the trailer was purely CG and didn't appear to show anything from the actual game engine, so actual gameplay details are still unknown, but it's Platinum Games, so anything less than insane, over-the-top action spectacle would be way out of character for them. Still, the brief clip's focus on a historical timeline of lore suggests to us that Platinum are aiming to compete with the likes of Game of Thrones with their next game, which is due out on PS4 and Steam in 2019.
 
Kingdom Hearts III
 
The appearance of Kingdom Hearts III was hardly surprising during Square's press conference. However, its presence would have been more exciting if they hadn't announced the release date earlier in the week, and also released a nearly-identical trailer at the Microsoft Xbox press conference the day before. Basically, the Square Enix trailer was a rehash of the Xbox trailer, but with a couple of extra shots here and there, including the reveal of Remy from Pixar's Ratatouille, presumably as a summon character. 
 
 
Just Cause 4
 
There are few things more rewarding than causing ungodly levels or mayhem and destruction in a Just Cause game. Rico Rodriguez is back for Just Cause 4, which aims to be the most over-the-top entry yet. Boasting a new graphics engine and the most diverse setting yet seen in the acclaimed series, JC4 is aiming, like its predecessors, to be the open-world action game by which all others are judged. Our first reactions to the JC4 trailer can be found here.
 
The Quiet Man
 
Not much is known about The Quiet Man, other than the player character is more gorgeous than Cloud Strife and Squall Leonheart combined, and he has some sick hand-to-hand combat skills. The trailer incorporated live-action footage in addition to brief snippets of gameplay, but it's unclear if the New York City-based title will embrace a new-age FMV style, or if that was just a specially-shot sequence for the trailer. Square Enix, devilish teases as they are, promise more info is coming in August.
 
--
 
Overall, Square Enix's show was short, but sweet. They brought some cool surprises like Captain Spirit and the Final Fantasy XIV/Monster Hunter World crossover, as well as fleshed-out looks at big-budget action/adventure titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Just Cause 4. Like any good presser, they also teased us with brief, provocative glimpses at unknown titles like The Quiet Man and Babylon's Fall. And, of course, there's a significant group of people who are beyond thrilled now that Dragon Quest XI has a Western release date... And we don't need to explain that any look at Kingdom Hearts III automatically puts this squarely in the "win" column.
 
How do you think Square Enix did with its E3 2018 showing? Let us know in the comments! You can watch the full press conference for yourself below. 
 
 
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Naomi N. Lugo
In an anarchic fashion that we've come to know and love, Devolver Digital executed their 2018 press conference on June 10. At first we were greeted by a new host, Cinco Miller, the supposed CEO of Devolver Digital. Soon, the standard chaos unraveled, and we were met with a familiar, enraged face. Nina Struthers, as known from the previous year's conference, took over the stage and then proceeded to tear apart the common tropes of the video games industry. 
 
Struthers returned, and she definitely read/heard everyone's "unsolicited" feedback on the last press conference. Devolver then kept up the pace with their 2017 show, keeping components from the old while delivering a biting criticism with the new. All the while, they delivered the games that Devolver worked on for the new season.
 
 
The first game on the roster evolves the survival genre by adding mechanics to hopefully mirror real-world ailments like metabolism and gear wetness. It totes itself as a "supermax open world survival," with the goal of "long-term survival. The game is currently in pre-alpha and releases to Steam Early Access August 2018. There also was a brief teaser of zombie content at the end of the trailer.
 
Afterwards, Struthers unveiled the Lootbox Coin, a semi-fake currency with an oh-so-real price tag that fluctuated every hour. "You can't buy anything with it. In fact, it's insane for you to really buy it unless you want to prove your loyalty to Fork Parker, Nina Struthers, and the Devolver Digital executive board," says the Devolver website description. Sadly the coin isn't available at the publishing of this article.
 
 
Next up, a ballet bullet-hell game called My Friend Pedro. The description of the game only gives a partial view of what to expect from this game. "My Friend Pedro is a violent ballet about friendship, imagination, and one man’s struggle to obliterate anyone in his path at the behest of a sentient banana," says the Steam page for the game. Watching the trailer though will give a sense of how this game will flow.
 
During the conference, the trailer played with classical music accenting the dance-like movements of the playable character. Gameplay involved strategy as well as interesting uses of the environment like ricocheting bullets off of a frying pan and aiming while riding a skateboard. The game is set to release to the Switch and PC sometime in 2019.
 
Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to make a dig at the influx of mini-consoles, Struthers announced the launch of the Devolver Digital Entertainment System Classic, however it turned out to be a repainted Sega Dreamcast dashing our hopes and dreams.
 
 
The third and final game of the conference took the audience back to 2004 with the remake of the From Software title Metal Wolf Chaos XD. Metal Wolf Chaos XD matches the chaotic nature that inhabits Devolver Digital perfectly. There are giant mech robots, big guns and explosions with the teaser trailer setting it in the White House. The remake entails upgraded visuals, widescreen format and the classic voiceover. The game is coming to Xbox One, PC and PlayStation 4 later this year. 
 
Keeping up with the cinematics of it all, the Devolver 2018 Press Conference ended with a bang and an homage to '80s action movies. We won't spoil the ending here. To check out the full conference, check a look over at this link. 
 
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