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Marcus Stewart

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About Marcus Stewart

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  • Birthday 11/09/1987

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  1. If sheer quantity decided the victor of E3, Microsoft would easily walk away with the win. Just as they did last year, the Xbox brand packed a ton of information into an over 90-minute presentation in front of their largest-ever live audience. To quote a stat from Xbox head Phil Spencer, Microsoft showed off 50 titles; 18 of them were console exclusives, and 15 that were world premiers. Microsoft addressed their first-party issue by announcing studio acquisitions, beefed up Xbox Game Pass, and even teased new hardware. Gamers walked away with a lot to digest, so let's make things easier by breaking down each announcement. I can think of few titles better suited to kick off a Microsoft show than a Halo reveal. In this case, we got a teaser trailer for Halo Infinite. We didn’t see much beyond scenic landscapes, some warthog riding, and a glimpse of Master Chief himself. 343 Studios later clarified that the video represents a tech demo for the Slipspace Engine and is not indicative of the actual game. Even still, Halo Infinite captured the imagination of the fans in attendance and started the presentation on a high note. We got our first look at gameplay for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It looks just as beautiful, and challenging, as the original and arrives sometime in 2019. That same year will also see the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The next title by FromSoftware was previously teased during last year’s Game Awards. It eschews medieval influences in favor of ninjas and a feudal Japan setting. Don't worry fans; it still looks pretty tough. It arrives in 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Bethesda Game Director Todd Howard took the stage to give the world another look at Fallout 76. This prequel to the Fallout series takes place in West Virginia 20 years after the nuclear war. Howard stated the game boasts a world 4-times larger than Fallout 4’s Commonwealth. The player controls a member of Vault 76, one of the first vaults to open and begin rebuilding the country. The trailer gave glimpses of various locations while Todd briefly spoke about the game’s general focus of survival and restoration. Life is Strange developer Dontnod’s lightened the mood a bit with a trailer for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. This charming title centers on a lonely boy who uses his imagination to escape a less whimsical reality. More importantly, it serves as a precursor to the still mysterious Life is Strange 2. In a cool move, Captain Spirit launches June 25 as a free download. Crackdown 3 suffered yet another delay prior to the show (this time to 2019), but a new trailer reminded everyone of what the wait will be for. The Terry Crews-narrated trailer showed off the over-to-top firefights and platforming, with some Hot Wheels-esque driving thrown in. Another crazy game in Nier: Automata, Platinum Game's breakout hit from last year, will arrive on Xbox on June 26. Packaged as the Become As Gods Edition, it includes all previously released DLC. Metro Exodus served up a new helping of gameplay. We got quick peeks at weapon customization, night vision segments, and terrifying creatures such as huge lake monster. Metro: Exodus continues to impress and arrives February 22. A new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III confirmed the game's arrival to Xbox, a first for the series. We got our first look at the world of Frozen, which stood as the video’s centerpiece. Tangled, Toy Story, and Hercules also got some spotlight. Aqua fans had their hearts broken when she appeared seemingly possessed by Xehanort at the trailer’s conclusion. Overall, this was a nice look at the game (one of several during the week) that had fans frantically counting down to the game’s January 29 release. Sea of Thieves left much to be desired, but Rare announced plans to fix that problem with two expansions. The first, Cursed Sails, launches in July. The other, Forsaken Shores, arrives in September. Outside of a short cinematic, no information was given regarding the actual content of these updates. DICE followed up their EA showing with a very brief cinematic for one of Battlefield V’s Nordlys campaign story. It centers on a Norwegian resistance fighter battling against German occupation while also trying to save her family. No gameplay was shown and the video lasted maybe less than a minute. Forza Horizon 4 raced on stage. The next entry boasts dynamic seasons that developer Playground Games promises will dramatically alter races. Winter, for example, freezes over bodies of water, opening up new areas for players to reach. Additionally, the Xbox One X version features a 60 fps mode. Forza Horizon 4 comes to Xbox One and Windows 10 on October 2 and hits Xbox Game Pass the same day. On the subject of bolstering the Xbox library, Phil Spencer announced the formation of new first-party studio The Initiative. He doubled down on that news by announcing the acquisition of third-party studios Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, and Compulsion Games. Since Microsoft paid Compulsion some lip service, we got new story trailer for We Happy Few. It showed off more of the wacky premise, showing how far the project has come. It has an August 10 release date. Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has new maps arriving in the coming as soon as this summer. Additionally, a new destination called War Mode is on the way. JRPG fans were happy to learn that 2008's Tales of Vesperia is getting remastered for Xbox One. This Definitive Edition includes previously Japanese-only content and characters and arrives this winter A gameplay demonstration for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 took viewers through a squad-based mission in the games Washington D.C. setting. The squad engages in a firefight against in and around a destroyed Air Force One. The Division 2 launches March 15 and you can sign up for the beta now. Ashley Speicher, head of Xbox Engineering, took the stage to talk about Xbox Game Pass. First, a new FastStart feature that launches select games twice as fast will be included in the June Xbox update. Additionally, Fallout 4, The Division, and The Elder Scrolls Online became available on Game Pass that day. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will join the library later this year. Future releases, such as Forza Horizon 4, Crackdown 3, and others, will be playable on Game Pass the same day that they launch. Next we got the required ID@Xbox rapid-fire showcase showed off upcoming indie titles. The highlight reel included Outer Wilds, Afterparty, Warhammer II: Vermintide, Super Meat Boy Forever, Sable, Generation Zero, Dead Cells, and Ashen. A new Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailer showed off more locations, including a Day of the Dead festival. We got a look at possibly the main villain, watched Lara stare down vicious jaguars, and watched her narrowly survive as a massive flood swept through a village. Following that was a short trailer for Session, a Kickstarted skateboard game that drew some comparisons to Skate, as well as a teaser for the Xbox port of mmorpg Black Desert. The stylish reveal of Devil May Cry 5 offered a huge surprise. As a direct sequel to Devil May Cry 4 (and thus ignoring Ninja Theory's DmC), Nero returns as the leading man alongside a new female sidekick. Gameplay showed off Nero's new robotic arm and a what appeared to be a time-stopping power. Oh, and Dante rode in for a quick cameo at the end. Director Hideaki Itsuno proudly declared DMC 5 as the best game he's ever made and has a spring 2019 launch window. Another surprise came in the form of a DLC expansion for Cuphead. Titled The Delicious Last Course, it releases next year and includes a third playable character, Ms. Chalice, along with a new island populated with bosses. Meanwhile, Tunic, the adorable Zelda-style game starring a cute fox, emerged from hibernation and looks as pretty and fun as ever. Phil Spencer returned to state that everything shown going forward would be never-before-seen world premiers. That kicked off with the reveal of Jump Force. This crossover fighter cherry picks characters from Shonen Jump anime like Dragon Ball and Naruto and pits them against each other. Look for it in 2019. Dying Light 2 premiered sporting a new emphasis on dynamic choice-making. The demonstration showed the player negotiating with a faction hoarding a crucial water supply. Depending on whether or not you follow them, the consequences physically alters the city and affects the population's morale and general way of life. Dying Light 2 features improved parkour mechanics and night gameplay, though not shown, remains a terrifying factor. Remember Battletoads? Rare hopes that you do because a new game is in development for launch in 2019. We didn't see anything of it, but we do know it'll support 3-player couch co-op and have a hand-drawn 2.5D presentation. Just Cause 4 made its official debut after being leaked twice before the show. A story trailer set up Rico's battle against the Black Hand private army. Fans also got to see the new weather effects, including a tornado (which Rico promptly jumped into). Just Cause 4 launches December 4. The Gears of War franchise has not one but three new titles on the way. First was Gears Pop!, which features Funko Pop versions of the Gears cast. For strategy fans, Gears Tactics blends turned-based strategy with the series cover-based gameplay. Finally, a cinematic trailer for Gears 5 (yes, just Gears) established Gears of War 4's Kait Diaz as the new protagonist. The trailer appeared to center on her ancestral connection to the Locust, with J.D. and Marcus Fenix serving as support roles. Phil Spencer returned to the stage one last time to tease future projects such as Microsoft AI and a game-streaming service. He even confirmed that the next Xbox console was already deep in development. Just as he was bringing the show to a close, the briefing's feed was abruptly hijacked by one more game waiting to make itself known. CD Projekt RED's long-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 made its big debut after spending years in hiding.The trailer showed off the sci-fi beauty of Night City as well as its seedy underbelly. The almost Grand Theft Auto-esque style trailer checked off the many of the cyberpunk genre's calling cards: humans with crazy machine parts, flying cars, and building-sized holograms. Everything looked gorgeous to the point of looking next-gen, though the game has been confirmed for this console generation. We still didn't get a release window but this incredible first look made arguably the biggest splash of any title shown throughout the show. So how do you think Microsoft's briefing shaped up? Let us know in the comments. You can also watch it yourself down below. 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! View full article
  2. If sheer quantity decided the victor of E3, Microsoft would easily walk away with the win. Just as they did last year, the Xbox brand packed a ton of information into an over 90-minute presentation in front of their largest-ever live audience. To quote a stat from Xbox head Phil Spencer, Microsoft showed off 50 titles; 18 of them were console exclusives, and 15 that were world premiers. Microsoft addressed their first-party issue by announcing studio acquisitions, beefed up Xbox Game Pass, and even teased new hardware. Gamers walked away with a lot to digest, so let's make things easier by breaking down each announcement. I can think of few titles better suited to kick off a Microsoft show than a Halo reveal. In this case, we got a teaser trailer for Halo Infinite. We didn’t see much beyond scenic landscapes, some warthog riding, and a glimpse of Master Chief himself. 343 Studios later clarified that the video represents a tech demo for the Slipspace Engine and is not indicative of the actual game. Even still, Halo Infinite captured the imagination of the fans in attendance and started the presentation on a high note. We got our first look at gameplay for Ori and the Will of the Wisps. It looks just as beautiful, and challenging, as the original and arrives sometime in 2019. That same year will also see the release of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. The next title by FromSoftware was previously teased during last year’s Game Awards. It eschews medieval influences in favor of ninjas and a feudal Japan setting. Don't worry fans; it still looks pretty tough. It arrives in 2019 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. Bethesda Game Director Todd Howard took the stage to give the world another look at Fallout 76. This prequel to the Fallout series takes place in West Virginia 20 years after the nuclear war. Howard stated the game boasts a world 4-times larger than Fallout 4’s Commonwealth. The player controls a member of Vault 76, one of the first vaults to open and begin rebuilding the country. The trailer gave glimpses of various locations while Todd briefly spoke about the game’s general focus of survival and restoration. Life is Strange developer Dontnod’s lightened the mood a bit with a trailer for The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit. This charming title centers on a lonely boy who uses his imagination to escape a less whimsical reality. More importantly, it serves as a precursor to the still mysterious Life is Strange 2. In a cool move, Captain Spirit launches June 25 as a free download. Crackdown 3 suffered yet another delay prior to the show (this time to 2019), but a new trailer reminded everyone of what the wait will be for. The Terry Crews-narrated trailer showed off the over-to-top firefights and platforming, with some Hot Wheels-esque driving thrown in. Another crazy game in Nier: Automata, Platinum Game's breakout hit from last year, will arrive on Xbox on June 26. Packaged as the Become As Gods Edition, it includes all previously released DLC. Metro Exodus served up a new helping of gameplay. We got quick peeks at weapon customization, night vision segments, and terrifying creatures such as huge lake monster. Metro: Exodus continues to impress and arrives February 22. A new trailer for Kingdom Hearts III confirmed the game's arrival to Xbox, a first for the series. We got our first look at the world of Frozen, which stood as the video’s centerpiece. Tangled, Toy Story, and Hercules also got some spotlight. Aqua fans had their hearts broken when she appeared seemingly possessed by Xehanort at the trailer’s conclusion. Overall, this was a nice look at the game (one of several during the week) that had fans frantically counting down to the game’s January 29 release. Sea of Thieves left much to be desired, but Rare announced plans to fix that problem with two expansions. The first, Cursed Sails, launches in July. The other, Forsaken Shores, arrives in September. Outside of a short cinematic, no information was given regarding the actual content of these updates. DICE followed up their EA showing with a very brief cinematic for one of Battlefield V’s Nordlys campaign story. It centers on a Norwegian resistance fighter battling against German occupation while also trying to save her family. No gameplay was shown and the video lasted maybe less than a minute. Forza Horizon 4 raced on stage. The next entry boasts dynamic seasons that developer Playground Games promises will dramatically alter races. Winter, for example, freezes over bodies of water, opening up new areas for players to reach. Additionally, the Xbox One X version features a 60 fps mode. Forza Horizon 4 comes to Xbox One and Windows 10 on October 2 and hits Xbox Game Pass the same day. On the subject of bolstering the Xbox library, Phil Spencer announced the formation of new first-party studio The Initiative. He doubled down on that news by announcing the acquisition of third-party studios Undead Labs, Playground Games, Ninja Theory, and Compulsion Games. Since Microsoft paid Compulsion some lip service, we got new story trailer for We Happy Few. It showed off more of the wacky premise, showing how far the project has come. It has an August 10 release date. Playerunknown's Battlegrounds has new maps arriving in the coming as soon as this summer. Additionally, a new destination called War Mode is on the way. JRPG fans were happy to learn that 2008's Tales of Vesperia is getting remastered for Xbox One. This Definitive Edition includes previously Japanese-only content and characters and arrives this winter A gameplay demonstration for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 took viewers through a squad-based mission in the games Washington D.C. setting. The squad engages in a firefight against in and around a destroyed Air Force One. The Division 2 launches March 15 and you can sign up for the beta now. Ashley Speicher, head of Xbox Engineering, took the stage to talk about Xbox Game Pass. First, a new FastStart feature that launches select games twice as fast will be included in the June Xbox update. Additionally, Fallout 4, The Division, and The Elder Scrolls Online became available on Game Pass that day. Halo: The Master Chief Collection will join the library later this year. Future releases, such as Forza Horizon 4, Crackdown 3, and others, will be playable on Game Pass the same day that they launch. Next we got the required ID@Xbox rapid-fire showcase showed off upcoming indie titles. The highlight reel included Outer Wilds, Afterparty, Warhammer II: Vermintide, Super Meat Boy Forever, Sable, Generation Zero, Dead Cells, and Ashen. A new Shadow of the Tomb Raider trailer showed off more locations, including a Day of the Dead festival. We got a look at possibly the main villain, watched Lara stare down vicious jaguars, and watched her narrowly survive as a massive flood swept through a village. Following that was a short trailer for Session, a Kickstarted skateboard game that drew some comparisons to Skate, as well as a teaser for the Xbox port of mmorpg Black Desert. The stylish reveal of Devil May Cry 5 offered a huge surprise. As a direct sequel to Devil May Cry 4 (and thus ignoring Ninja Theory's DmC), Nero returns as the leading man alongside a new female sidekick. Gameplay showed off Nero's new robotic arm and a what appeared to be a time-stopping power. Oh, and Dante rode in for a quick cameo at the end. Director Hideaki Itsuno proudly declared DMC 5 as the best game he's ever made and has a spring 2019 launch window. Another surprise came in the form of a DLC expansion for Cuphead. Titled The Delicious Last Course, it releases next year and includes a third playable character, Ms. Chalice, along with a new island populated with bosses. Meanwhile, Tunic, the adorable Zelda-style game starring a cute fox, emerged from hibernation and looks as pretty and fun as ever. Phil Spencer returned to state that everything shown going forward would be never-before-seen world premiers. That kicked off with the reveal of Jump Force. This crossover fighter cherry picks characters from Shonen Jump anime like Dragon Ball and Naruto and pits them against each other. Look for it in 2019. Dying Light 2 premiered sporting a new emphasis on dynamic choice-making. The demonstration showed the player negotiating with a faction hoarding a crucial water supply. Depending on whether or not you follow them, the consequences physically alters the city and affects the population's morale and general way of life. Dying Light 2 features improved parkour mechanics and night gameplay, though not shown, remains a terrifying factor. Remember Battletoads? Rare hopes that you do because a new game is in development for launch in 2019. We didn't see anything of it, but we do know it'll support 3-player couch co-op and have a hand-drawn 2.5D presentation. Just Cause 4 made its official debut after being leaked twice before the show. A story trailer set up Rico's battle against the Black Hand private army. Fans also got to see the new weather effects, including a tornado (which Rico promptly jumped into). Just Cause 4 launches December 4. The Gears of War franchise has not one but three new titles on the way. First was Gears Pop!, which features Funko Pop versions of the Gears cast. For strategy fans, Gears Tactics blends turned-based strategy with the series cover-based gameplay. Finally, a cinematic trailer for Gears 5 (yes, just Gears) established Gears of War 4's Kait Diaz as the new protagonist. The trailer appeared to center on her ancestral connection to the Locust, with J.D. and Marcus Fenix serving as support roles. Phil Spencer returned to the stage one last time to tease future projects such as Microsoft AI and a game-streaming service. He even confirmed that the next Xbox console was already deep in development. Just as he was bringing the show to a close, the briefing's feed was abruptly hijacked by one more game waiting to make itself known. CD Projekt RED's long-anticipated Cyberpunk 2077 made its big debut after spending years in hiding.The trailer showed off the sci-fi beauty of Night City as well as its seedy underbelly. The almost Grand Theft Auto-esque style trailer checked off the many of the cyberpunk genre's calling cards: humans with crazy machine parts, flying cars, and building-sized holograms. Everything looked gorgeous to the point of looking next-gen, though the game has been confirmed for this console generation. We still didn't get a release window but this incredible first look made arguably the biggest splash of any title shown throughout the show. So how do you think Microsoft's briefing shaped up? Let us know in the comments. You can also watch it yourself down below. 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!
  3. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed marked the first time Sonic rivalved Mario in any capacity since the Sega vs Nintendo war of the early 90’s. The 2012 racer seamlessly blended ground, air, and sea racing with fun results, providing a worthy alternative to Mario Kart’s juggernaut. Over five years have passed, and the blue blur wants another shot at dethroning Mario Kart. Enter Team Sonic Racing. Sega’s newest racer manages to stand out by offering something completely different from its rival. You probably guessed from the title that teamwork is the name of the game this time around, and I’m not talking about multiple riders sharing a vehicle ala Mario Kart: Double Dash. Teams of three separate racers work together on the track to take out the competition and grab the gold trophy. Making sure teammates also finish strong is just as important as focusing on reaching the coveted 1st place. For example, winning the race with Sonic doesn’t mean much if his friends, Knuckles and Tails, finish at 6th and 9th place, respectively. That’s because the cumulative scores of each team member determine the overall group ranking. You may be asking: “How can individual racers cooperate?” I wondered the same thing, and I’m pleasantly surprised with Sumo Digital’s answer. Teamwork maneuvers include transferring power-ups between teammates. Pick up a speed boost, but you’re already in the lead? Give it to a buddy lagging behind. On the flip side, getting that crucial item from a friend when you’re pulling up the rear feels like a godsend. Besides being fun, this system dramatically alters the kart racing mentality. I found myself making moves I normally wouldn’t, such as going out of my way to grab items to help my allies instead of booking for the finish line. Additionally, driving behind teammates and following their paths triggers a slingshot maneuver that rockets you forward. Drifting close to a buddy grants them a similar speed boost. The demo of Team Sonic Racing, for as solid as its mechanics were, certainly had its limitations. Driving felt mostly fine, but gameplay overall had a noticeable lack of polish..The single, basic track available also wasn’t anything to write home about. In fact, I’m having a hard time recalling anything remotely interesting about it. Hopefully the full game features more inventive courses that take full advantage of the teamwork mechanic. The demo only featured two playable teams: Sonic/Tails/Knuckles and Shadow/Rouge/E-123 Omega. The roster ditches the Sega crossover aspect in favor of a pure Sonic line-up. Although Sonic has plenty of critters to fill a roster with, I’ll miss the zaniness of racing alongside Shenmue’s Ryo and real-life racer Danica Patrick. This also means putting up with the inane banter of Sonic’s crew, like Shadow’s cheesy attempt at a catchphrase, “Make way for the ultimate lifeform!”. Team Sonic Racing seems like a neat idea that I hope gets backed by equally interesting courses and a stacked roster. Sonic and pals have an uphill drive ahead of them trying to supplant the superb Mario Kart 8. At the very least, Team Sonic Racing can do what previous entries have always succeeded at: offering an enjoyable spin on the kart racing formula. Look for Team Sonic Racing when it comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC later this year. 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! View full article
  4. Marcus Stewart

    Getting Behind the Wheel of Team Sonic Racing

    Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed marked the first time Sonic rivalved Mario in any capacity since the Sega vs Nintendo war of the early 90’s. The 2012 racer seamlessly blended ground, air, and sea racing with fun results, providing a worthy alternative to Mario Kart’s juggernaut. Over five years have passed, and the blue blur wants another shot at dethroning Mario Kart. Enter Team Sonic Racing. Sega’s newest racer manages to stand out by offering something completely different from its rival. You probably guessed from the title that teamwork is the name of the game this time around, and I’m not talking about multiple riders sharing a vehicle ala Mario Kart: Double Dash. Teams of three separate racers work together on the track to take out the competition and grab the gold trophy. Making sure teammates also finish strong is just as important as focusing on reaching the coveted 1st place. For example, winning the race with Sonic doesn’t mean much if his friends, Knuckles and Tails, finish at 6th and 9th place, respectively. That’s because the cumulative scores of each team member determine the overall group ranking. You may be asking: “How can individual racers cooperate?” I wondered the same thing, and I’m pleasantly surprised with Sumo Digital’s answer. Teamwork maneuvers include transferring power-ups between teammates. Pick up a speed boost, but you’re already in the lead? Give it to a buddy lagging behind. On the flip side, getting that crucial item from a friend when you’re pulling up the rear feels like a godsend. Besides being fun, this system dramatically alters the kart racing mentality. I found myself making moves I normally wouldn’t, such as going out of my way to grab items to help my allies instead of booking for the finish line. Additionally, driving behind teammates and following their paths triggers a slingshot maneuver that rockets you forward. Drifting close to a buddy grants them a similar speed boost. The demo of Team Sonic Racing, for as solid as its mechanics were, certainly had its limitations. Driving felt mostly fine, but gameplay overall had a noticeable lack of polish..The single, basic track available also wasn’t anything to write home about. In fact, I’m having a hard time recalling anything remotely interesting about it. Hopefully the full game features more inventive courses that take full advantage of the teamwork mechanic. The demo only featured two playable teams: Sonic/Tails/Knuckles and Shadow/Rouge/E-123 Omega. The roster ditches the Sega crossover aspect in favor of a pure Sonic line-up. Although Sonic has plenty of critters to fill a roster with, I’ll miss the zaniness of racing alongside Shenmue’s Ryo and real-life racer Danica Patrick. This also means putting up with the inane banter of Sonic’s crew, like Shadow’s cheesy attempt at a catchphrase, “Make way for the ultimate lifeform!”. Team Sonic Racing seems like a neat idea that I hope gets backed by equally interesting courses and a stacked roster. Sonic and pals have an uphill drive ahead of them trying to supplant the superb Mario Kart 8. At the very least, Team Sonic Racing can do what previous entries have always succeeded at: offering an enjoyable spin on the kart racing formula. Look for Team Sonic Racing when it comes to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC later this year. 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!
  5. We Happy Few turned a lot of heads when it debuted in 2015. Its intriguing premise of a drug-fueled utopia, combined with the Bioshock-esque presentation and gameplay, gave the impression of narrative-focused shooter on-par with Ken Levine’s work. That excitement turned to disappointment when the game’s multiplayer entered early beta in 2016. Even though developer Compulsion Games promised a single-player component from the beginning, an off-put player base didn’t react kindly to this first offering. They weren’t alone. My own enthusiasm for We Happy Few waned significantly in light of this direction. Fast-forward months later, and Compulsion has found a publisher in Gearbox Software. The financial backing of a triple-A publisher has allowed the developer to expand the project’s scope–particularly its single-player. After spending an hour with We Happy Few’s revamped story campaign, I can confidently say that it feels like the experience people wanted from the get-go. On a personal note, I fell in love with the project all over again. To quickly recap the game’s premise, We Happy Few takes place in the retrofuturistic city of Wellington Wells. Set in an alternate 1960’s Britain, citizens live their lives constantly hopped up on a drug called Joy. As the name suggests, the drug basically brainwashes them into a creepy, forced happiness, causing hallucinations and general insanity. Those who don’t take their Joy get labeled as Downers, and become exiled as enemies. The demo I played picked up immediately after the conclusion of the game’s E3 2016 trailer. Protagonist Arthur Hastings, a newspaper censor, (and one of three available characters) was outed as a Downer and narrowly evaded capture by the authorities. We last saw him enter the sewers where I continued his escape. I immediately felt the Bioshock vibes, from the quirky writing (though We Happy Few leans harder into black comedy territory) to the the exaggerated characters. Logs and books filling in the world’s lore littered environments for the player’s reading pleasure. Every piece of furniture, as well as bodies, can be searched for supplies. And search for supplies you should because We Happy Few focuses heavily on crafting and survival. Food, medical supplies, tools, and even clothing must be whipped up using random parts. Additionally, players can discover blueprints to make other items. As someone who enjoys picking up junk to create not-junk, I felt that unexplainable but familiar satisfaction of hoarding everything in sight and got excited for every new blueprint. Player’s maintain Arthur’s hunger and thirst by devouring food and water. Most of the food I found barely qualified as edible, so I needed to craft food poisoning remedies to keep on hand at all times. Maintaining Arthur’s statuses seemed like a potential burden, but these meters depleted slowly. I also frequently found food (albeit decayed), which left me to enjoy myself without stopping every few minutes to stuff Arthur’s face. The map’s enormous scale stood out as I roamed the scenic British countryside. In fact, my lengthy trek only uncovered a relatively small portion of it. Furthermore, the area I occupied only represented one of around five or six zones players explore. Needless to say, We Happy Few seems poised to offer plenty of game to across its roughly 20 hour campaign. A huge world needs plenty of side activities. We Happy Few features traditional NPC side-quests as well as extra objectives. I found maps that revealed dig spots where I unearthed buried treasure. Discovering certain ingredients opened up crafting quests which essentially acted as tutorials for assembling a new recipe. It remains to be seen just how much We Happy Few has to offer outside of the critical path, but the diversions I found left me feeling optimistic on that front. I eventually reached my objective: a dilapidated, poverty-stricken town. Its population appeared to consist of sullen Wellington Wells outcasts. Since they resented their former home, they didn’t take kindly to Arthur’s fancy city garb and proceeded to band together and give chase. I fled into a nearby church. Inside, I met a character recommending I tear up my clothing to appear more downtrodden. Blending into the surroundings is another crucial element of We Happy Few. That could involve posing as a exile on the outside or maintaining the illusion of Joy-fueled cheerfulness within Wellington Wells. After crafting a crappier version of my outfit, I stepped outside to greet the unruly mob. Upon noticing my new digs, they instantly shrugged and dissipated in a somewhat comedic moment. I could now freely explore the town. Citizen interactions have an Elder Scrolls-like flavor. For example, intruding into homes uninvited or getting caught stealing possessions can cause residents to violently retaliate. Now that I’ve successfully assimilated myself into the local populace, crossing a bridge to reach the next region became my next goal. I reached the gentleman guarding the bridge gate; however, it turned out a local gang swiped his precious war medals and he wouldn’t let me pass until I recovered them. Furthermore, I also needed to find a necessary power cell. To recover the medals, I had to locate and infiltrate the gang’s stronghold. Despite sneaking through a back opening undetected (one of multiple routes), the gang were prepared for intruders all along and captured me when I rode their elevator. The reason behind their setup: to lure potential competitors to battle to the death in their popular fighting arena. After stripping me of my belongings, the thugs led me into their battlefield. I met my opponent: a former associate of Arthur’s who blamed him for not publishing one of his articles in the newspaper. Arthur explained that the man’s piece blatantly plagiarized Arthur’s own work, but the man still swore revenge in a humorous exchange. I had the option of choosing to use non-lethal or deadly force. I went with the non-fatal pipe wrapped in padding. My adversary swiftly opted for a deadlier weapon, much to Arthur’s chagrin. Despite having this choice, We Happy Few doesn’t feature a morality mechanic. When I asked Compulsion’s Narrative Director Alex Epstein about this, he told me he’d rather players feel the consequences themselves rather than gamify it. Judging by this response, I wouldn't expect any horns to sprout on Arthur's head if you opt for a bloodier approach. Combat resembled the style of BioShock or Dishonored. The right shoulder button initiated attacks while the left shoulder button blocked. Players can also perform a guard-breaking shove. Picking up downed bodies and hurling them at opponents became my favorite offensive move for its silliness. After incapacitating the writer, more enemies entered the fray. I found it easy to drop foes by backing them into a corner and wailing on them, though I had to remain mindful of Arthur’s stamina meter. After finally beating my challengers, the gang allowed me to walk free, but I had no intention of leaving without accomplishing my mission. I snuck my way into the underbelly of the hideout. Navigating unseen, I creeped up behind unsuspecting foes and choked them out. To distract others, I lobbed glass bottles. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans, but players can access more abilities by unlocking them in the skill tree. I eventually found the gatekeeper’s medals, along with a power cell and my stolen inventory, and chose to escape without making a ruckus. After returning the medals to the grateful veteran, I passed through the gate and took a train to the next area. Unfortunately, I had to end things there before I could see what lay ahead. Had I not had to hoof it to another appointment, I’d have gladly kept playing. We Happy Few’s strange world begs to be explored, and I got hooked on gathering as many resources to make Arthur as capable as possible. With a world this large, We Happy Few will live or die based on the number of interesting things to do. Ultimately, I’m relieved to have substantial single-player component to sink my teeth into as the idea of the multiplayer doesn’t excite me in the same way. The wait for We Happy Few won’t last much longer, thankfully. It launches August 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. 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! View full article
  6. Marcus Stewart

    We Happy Few's E3 Demo Made Me A Believer Again

    We Happy Few turned a lot of heads when it debuted in 2015. Its intriguing premise of a drug-fueled utopia, combined with the Bioshock-esque presentation and gameplay, gave the impression of narrative-focused shooter on-par with Ken Levine’s work. That excitement turned to disappointment when the game’s multiplayer entered early beta in 2016. Even though developer Compulsion Games promised a single-player component from the beginning, an off-put player base didn’t react kindly to this first offering. They weren’t alone. My own enthusiasm for We Happy Few waned significantly in light of this direction. Fast-forward months later, and Compulsion has found a publisher in Gearbox Software. The financial backing of a triple-A publisher has allowed the developer to expand the project’s scope–particularly its single-player. After spending an hour with We Happy Few’s revamped story campaign, I can confidently say that it feels like the experience people wanted from the get-go. On a personal note, I fell in love with the project all over again. To quickly recap the game’s premise, We Happy Few takes place in the retrofuturistic city of Wellington Wells. Set in an alternate 1960’s Britain, citizens live their lives constantly hopped up on a drug called Joy. As the name suggests, the drug basically brainwashes them into a creepy, forced happiness, causing hallucinations and general insanity. Those who don’t take their Joy get labeled as Downers, and become exiled as enemies. The demo I played picked up immediately after the conclusion of the game’s E3 2016 trailer. Protagonist Arthur Hastings, a newspaper censor, (and one of three available characters) was outed as a Downer and narrowly evaded capture by the authorities. We last saw him enter the sewers where I continued his escape. I immediately felt the Bioshock vibes, from the quirky writing (though We Happy Few leans harder into black comedy territory) to the the exaggerated characters. Logs and books filling in the world’s lore littered environments for the player’s reading pleasure. Every piece of furniture, as well as bodies, can be searched for supplies. And search for supplies you should because We Happy Few focuses heavily on crafting and survival. Food, medical supplies, tools, and even clothing must be whipped up using random parts. Additionally, players can discover blueprints to make other items. As someone who enjoys picking up junk to create not-junk, I felt that unexplainable but familiar satisfaction of hoarding everything in sight and got excited for every new blueprint. Player’s maintain Arthur’s hunger and thirst by devouring food and water. Most of the food I found barely qualified as edible, so I needed to craft food poisoning remedies to keep on hand at all times. Maintaining Arthur’s statuses seemed like a potential burden, but these meters depleted slowly. I also frequently found food (albeit decayed), which left me to enjoy myself without stopping every few minutes to stuff Arthur’s face. The map’s enormous scale stood out as I roamed the scenic British countryside. In fact, my lengthy trek only uncovered a relatively small portion of it. Furthermore, the area I occupied only represented one of around five or six zones players explore. Needless to say, We Happy Few seems poised to offer plenty of game to across its roughly 20 hour campaign. A huge world needs plenty of side activities. We Happy Few features traditional NPC side-quests as well as extra objectives. I found maps that revealed dig spots where I unearthed buried treasure. Discovering certain ingredients opened up crafting quests which essentially acted as tutorials for assembling a new recipe. It remains to be seen just how much We Happy Few has to offer outside of the critical path, but the diversions I found left me feeling optimistic on that front. I eventually reached my objective: a dilapidated, poverty-stricken town. Its population appeared to consist of sullen Wellington Wells outcasts. Since they resented their former home, they didn’t take kindly to Arthur’s fancy city garb and proceeded to band together and give chase. I fled into a nearby church. Inside, I met a character recommending I tear up my clothing to appear more downtrodden. Blending into the surroundings is another crucial element of We Happy Few. That could involve posing as a exile on the outside or maintaining the illusion of Joy-fueled cheerfulness within Wellington Wells. After crafting a crappier version of my outfit, I stepped outside to greet the unruly mob. Upon noticing my new digs, they instantly shrugged and dissipated in a somewhat comedic moment. I could now freely explore the town. Citizen interactions have an Elder Scrolls-like flavor. For example, intruding into homes uninvited or getting caught stealing possessions can cause residents to violently retaliate. Now that I’ve successfully assimilated myself into the local populace, crossing a bridge to reach the next region became my next goal. I reached the gentleman guarding the bridge gate; however, it turned out a local gang swiped his precious war medals and he wouldn’t let me pass until I recovered them. Furthermore, I also needed to find a necessary power cell. To recover the medals, I had to locate and infiltrate the gang’s stronghold. Despite sneaking through a back opening undetected (one of multiple routes), the gang were prepared for intruders all along and captured me when I rode their elevator. The reason behind their setup: to lure potential competitors to battle to the death in their popular fighting arena. After stripping me of my belongings, the thugs led me into their battlefield. I met my opponent: a former associate of Arthur’s who blamed him for not publishing one of his articles in the newspaper. Arthur explained that the man’s piece blatantly plagiarized Arthur’s own work, but the man still swore revenge in a humorous exchange. I had the option of choosing to use non-lethal or deadly force. I went with the non-fatal pipe wrapped in padding. My adversary swiftly opted for a deadlier weapon, much to Arthur’s chagrin. Despite having this choice, We Happy Few doesn’t feature a morality mechanic. When I asked Compulsion’s Narrative Director Alex Epstein about this, he told me he’d rather players feel the consequences themselves rather than gamify it. Judging by this response, I wouldn't expect any horns to sprout on Arthur's head if you opt for a bloodier approach. Combat resembled the style of BioShock or Dishonored. The right shoulder button initiated attacks while the left shoulder button blocked. Players can also perform a guard-breaking shove. Picking up downed bodies and hurling them at opponents became my favorite offensive move for its silliness. After incapacitating the writer, more enemies entered the fray. I found it easy to drop foes by backing them into a corner and wailing on them, though I had to remain mindful of Arthur’s stamina meter. After finally beating my challengers, the gang allowed me to walk free, but I had no intention of leaving without accomplishing my mission. I snuck my way into the underbelly of the hideout. Navigating unseen, I creeped up behind unsuspecting foes and choked them out. To distract others, I lobbed glass bottles. These mechanics won’t surprise stealth fans, but players can access more abilities by unlocking them in the skill tree. I eventually found the gatekeeper’s medals, along with a power cell and my stolen inventory, and chose to escape without making a ruckus. After returning the medals to the grateful veteran, I passed through the gate and took a train to the next area. Unfortunately, I had to end things there before I could see what lay ahead. Had I not had to hoof it to another appointment, I’d have gladly kept playing. We Happy Few’s strange world begs to be explored, and I got hooked on gathering as many resources to make Arthur as capable as possible. With a world this large, We Happy Few will live or die based on the number of interesting things to do. Ultimately, I’m relieved to have substantial single-player component to sink my teeth into as the idea of the multiplayer doesn’t excite me in the same way. The wait for We Happy Few won’t last much longer, thankfully. It launches August 10 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC. 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!
  7. Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's Netflix-style subscription gaming service, now has a few big titles beefing up its already impressive line-up. Right now, members can access Fallout 4, Tom Clancy's The Division, and The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Furthermore, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will arrive on Game Pass later this year. Microsoft also promised that upcoming projects Forza Horizon 4, Afterparty, Ashen, and Warhammer: Vermintide 2 will be added to the Game Pass library the same day that they launch. Microsoft also revealed FastStart, a new feature that launches select Game Pass titles twice as fast. The feature will be a part of the upcoming June update for Xbox One. View full article
  8. Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft's Netflix-style subscription gaming service, now has a few big titles beefing up its already impressive line-up. Right now, members can access Fallout 4, Tom Clancy's The Division, and The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited. Furthermore, Halo: The Master Chief Collection will arrive on Game Pass later this year. Microsoft also promised that upcoming projects Forza Horizon 4, Afterparty, Ashen, and Warhammer: Vermintide 2 will be added to the Game Pass library the same day that they launch. Microsoft also revealed FastStart, a new feature that launches select Game Pass titles twice as fast. The feature will be a part of the upcoming June update for Xbox One.
  9. With the Skate franchise on ice and the Tony Hawk series fumbling every new comeback, skateboard enthusiasts have had little to latch onto this console generation. However, they may have a new hope in Session, a brand-new skateboard sim from developer crea-ture Studios. Session came to be via a Kickstarter campaign last year, where it raised over CA $163,000 of an $80,000 goal. The reveal trailer doesn't reveal any exact details, though the Kickstarter pages states that Session focuses entirely on the act of skateboarding with no "artificial add-ons". It utilizes a unique dual-stick control scheme similar to Skate's. Control of a skater's left and right feet is mapped to the respective analog sticks. crea-ture claims this set-up makes Session's controls intuitive and easy to pick up and play, regardless if you're a skating fan or otherwise. Additionally, Session's places a big emphasis on video editing with a film and sharing features. Players can manipulate camera angles and features to capture ideal shots of their sick tricks, then post them to social media. Session skates to Xbox One Game Preview and Steam Early Access later this year. The full release is scheduled for 2019. View full article
  10. With the Skate franchise on ice and the Tony Hawk series fumbling every new comeback, skateboard enthusiasts have had little to latch onto this console generation. However, they may have a new hope in Session, a brand-new skateboard sim from developer crea-ture Studios. Session came to be via a Kickstarter campaign last year, where it raised over CA $163,000 of an $80,000 goal. The reveal trailer doesn't reveal any exact details, though the Kickstarter pages states that Session focuses entirely on the act of skateboarding with no "artificial add-ons". It utilizes a unique dual-stick control scheme similar to Skate's. Control of a skater's left and right feet is mapped to the respective analog sticks. crea-ture claims this set-up makes Session's controls intuitive and easy to pick up and play, regardless if you're a skating fan or otherwise. Additionally, Session's places a big emphasis on video editing with a film and sharing features. Players can manipulate camera angles and features to capture ideal shots of their sick tricks, then post them to social media. Session skates to Xbox One Game Preview and Steam Early Access later this year. The full release is scheduled for 2019.
  11. Nier: Automata was an unexpected hit when it arrived on PlayStation 4 and PC last spring. The off-the-wall yet poignant story combined with its unique structure and stylish action took players by surprise, with many lauding it as one of the most memorable titles of the generation. Now Xbox owners can discover what the fuss is about when Platinum's breakout title arrives to Xbox One The Xbox version, subtitled Become as Gods Edition, includes all previously released DLC. It also boasts Xbox One X enhancements, likely meaning either a graphical or framerate boost. If you've yet to play Nier, take a look at what you're getting into in the trailer below. Nier: Automata - Become as Gods Edition releases June 26. View full article
  12. Marcus Stewart

    Nier: Automata Heading to Xbox One

    Nier: Automata was an unexpected hit when it arrived on PlayStation 4 and PC last spring. The off-the-wall yet poignant story combined with its unique structure and stylish action took players by surprise, with many lauding it as one of the most memorable titles of the generation. Now Xbox owners can discover what the fuss is about when Platinum's breakout title arrives to Xbox One The Xbox version, subtitled Become as Gods Edition, includes all previously released DLC. It also boasts Xbox One X enhancements, likely meaning either a graphical or framerate boost. If you've yet to play Nier, take a look at what you're getting into in the trailer below. Nier: Automata - Become as Gods Edition releases June 26.
  13. Microsoft addressed one of Xbox's largest criticisms, the lack of exclusive AAA games, by announcing the creation/acquisition of several development studios. When speaking about the importance of making Xbox One the best places to play game, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced the formation of The Initiative. This new Microsoft studio, led by veteran storyteller Darrell Gallagher (formally of Crystal Dynamics), is currently building a team of "world-class talent" in Santa Monica, California. Their goal, as Spencer put it, is to "create groundbreaking new game experiences". Spencer followed that news by revealing that four third-party studios have been brought under Microsoft's umbrella: Undead Labs (State of Decay series) Playground Games (Forza Horizon series, Unannounced new IP) Ninja Theory (Hellblade, DmC Devil May Cry, Enslaved) Compulsion Games (We Happy Few, Contrast) Spencer states these five teams will have "the resources, the platform, and the creative independence to take bigger risks, [and] create even bolder worlds for you". In a bit of writing on the wall, State of Decay and Forza Horizon have long been Microsoft-exclusive titles. The formally PlayStation-exclusive Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice arrived on Xbox in April. We Happy Few, however, is still scheduled to release on PlayStation 4 as well as Xbox One. View full article
  14. Microsoft addressed one of Xbox's largest criticisms, the lack of exclusive AAA games, by announcing the creation/acquisition of several development studios. When speaking about the importance of making Xbox One the best places to play game, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced the formation of The Initiative. This new Microsoft studio, led by veteran storyteller Darrell Gallagher (formally of Crystal Dynamics), is currently building a team of "world-class talent" in Santa Monica, California. Their goal, as Spencer put it, is to "create groundbreaking new game experiences". Spencer followed that news by revealing that four third-party studios have been brought under Microsoft's umbrella: Undead Labs (State of Decay series) Playground Games (Forza Horizon series, Unannounced new IP) Ninja Theory (Hellblade, DmC Devil May Cry, Enslaved) Compulsion Games (We Happy Few, Contrast) Spencer states these five teams will have "the resources, the platform, and the creative independence to take bigger risks, [and] create even bolder worlds for you". In a bit of writing on the wall, State of Decay and Forza Horizon have long been Microsoft-exclusive titles. The formally PlayStation-exclusive Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice arrived on Xbox in April. We Happy Few, however, is still scheduled to release on PlayStation 4 as well as Xbox One.
  15. In an moment that mirrored last year's surprise Dragon Ball FighterZ reveal, Microsoft's Phil Spencer took the stage with yet another new anime fighter to show. This time, instead of focusing on one property, Bandai Namco's Jump Force tosses multiple anime icons into one ring to duke it out. The flashy and mind-blowing trailer (if you're into anime, that is) sees Dragon Ball Z's Goku, One Piece's Luffy D. Monkey, and Naruto's...Naruto, squaring off against each other. One dream encounter was a brief skirmish between Naruto and Frieza. Towards the end of the video, Light Yagami and Ryuk of Death Note fame are shown overlooking the battle from afar. Though the idea sounds too good to be true, a look at its reveal trailer provides plenty of proof of the game's existence. So can Naruto best Goku in battle? We'll have to wait until 2019 to find out. No platforms were listed and its unknown if the title is an Xbox exclusive. View full article
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