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Found 113 results

  1. Night City is the setting for the upcoming game from CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077. The game is based on the tabletop role-playing games Cyberpunk and Cyberpunk 2020 by Mike Pondsmith Once shrouded in mystery but still able to garner a ton of hype, we finally have a concrete vision of CD Projekt Red's latest IP, Cyberpunk 2077. This past August, CD Projekt Red released a much-anticipated gameplay reveal trailer. The trailer generously showed a 48-minute walkthrough of early-story content. This same content (likely with some differences) made its debut earlier for a select crowd at E3 2018. I got a first-hand look at this hype when I was able to snag one of the coveted spots to see this much talked about footage. Cyberpunk 2077 easily had the biggest hype behind it during E3. Press, industry, and gamers crowded the long halls leading to the private showing area just for the mere chance to be squeezed in for one of the nearly 50-minute gameplay demos. The CD Projekt Red team, hoping to spare disappointment and save time, came out periodically to tell those hopefuls that they were overbooked. I stood in that line for about two and a half hours, fighting off waves of hopelessness and persevering through pure stubbornness. About three people were let in every hour, and sometimes less. One developer came out and firmly said that absolutely no extra spots were available while another said he'd see what he can do. With a bit of luck, I managed to get in, and oh man, was all that angst worth it. Level Designer Miles Tost served as our guide through the demo. We entered the character creator first. Tost formally introduced us to a mercenary named V, our fully customizable protagonist who made a brief appearance in the official E3 trailer. V can be either female or male and has various cosmetic settings to go through; the usual sliders and color options one might expect. The class system, however, had me interested since it offered a fluid experience that changes as you play the game. The different classes aren't meant to be set in stone, allowing the player to switch between them. V can then adapt to each player's individualized playstyle while progressing through the game. For the live demo, the team chose a female V. After setting up, it was time to get immersed in Night City. Jackie Wells is a fellow assassin that accompanies V during the course of the 50-minute demo shown at E3 Located in coastal California, Night City contains six seamless districts. The city reminded me of a hybrid between Blade Runner (but with sunshine) and Fifth Element. My not-so-bold prediction pins Night City as the main setting for the majority of the game. Towering mega-buildings scatter the landscape. In one of these giant structures, we met the aforementioned V and her mercenary partner Jackie Welles. The duo work as freelance guns-for-hire, taking jobs and recognizing opportunity when it presents itself. The demo began with the duo on a mission to retrieve a high priority target, the victim of kidnapping and implant harvesting. Obtaining implants, no matter how grisly the method of acquisition, proves a lucrative business in the dark future of Cyberpunk. With this introduction to Night City, V got a bit of action hunting down organ scavengers in a cramped and dingy apartment complex. They made their way through rooms, taking out enemies until stumbling upon the female target unconscious alongside another body in an iced tub. As you've most likely read/heard by now, Cyberpunk 2077's gameplay takes place from a first-person viewpoint. This fact seemed to generate some degree of frustration from fans of CD Projekt RED who have been accustomed to The Witcher series' third-person perspective. Personally, that didn't impair the experience as a viewer. Actually, the way combat functions, first-person seems to be the optimal way to play. Combat lets the player use a combo of high-tech weapons, cybernetic abilities, stealth, good ol' fashioned head bashing, and I'm sure loads more that we haven't seen yet. It definitely ventures away from what we've seen in the Witcher series. Upon securing the iced and unconscious woman, V and Jackie pointedly ignored the other person. They'd only been hired to save one life that day. V inserted an implant behind the woman’s ear to get a reading on her vitals. Twitching and iced over, the woman clung to life. The two mercenaries quickly moved outside of the apartment to a balcony. The exterior of the tiny complex exposed a massive but crowded world. Across from the giant building that V and Jackie find themselves in stands another equally massive construction. Apparently, a lot of buildings in Night City share this form and, since they're so massive, function almost like their own cities. No good deed goes unpunished, and our two heroes quickly found themselves surrounded by aggressive armed people in matching blue uniforms with a red symbol. The interlopers demanded that the two mercenaries hand over the woman. V explained that they are hired help, but these soldiers weren’t the listening types. As quickly as they had arrived, they disappeared with the woman in a helicopter. From what Tost told us, these soldiers represent a high-end medical company. Think of them as insurance for rich people. The icy, dying woman V and Jackie retrieved happens to be a client of theirs. In the world of Cyberpunk 2077, corporations run everything and this merc'ed up medical company is just another one of them. These soldiers represent a medical corporation The stress of the job proved to be worth the trouble for V, her paycheck earning her enough to go off on a three-day bender off-screen. The action resumed with an NSFW scene featuring a half-naked V in bed next to an equally half-naked stranger. Tost jumped in to say that this game contains mature content, definitely not a first for CD Projekt Red. He also revealed that Night City contains many inhabitants, a large amount of which V can interact with. These types of interactions could vary between random encounters with enemies to new partners with which V can bring on missions and likely a lot of things in-between. After her wild series of days, V needed to get back to work. Luckily, Jackie called with an exciting lead: A new client that could launch their careers into the stratosphere. The client, Dexter DeShaw, had a request for the two mercenaries, the details relayed via a shard that V plugged into her head. After downloading the mission info, V and Jackie left to prepare for the job. V followed Jackie through the streets of Night City. At street level, the space seemed overwhelming. The cityscape loomed overhead with skyscrapers taking up every scrap of sky. Life kept moving around V as she walked with Jackie. NPC's interacted with each other apparently leading their own lives, according to the devs, within Cyberpunk 2077. This makes the fact that V can interact with all of the NPCs that she dodged around certainly impressive. The NPCs themselves all had labels above their heads, giving a bit more characterization to the world. Pressing on through the mass of humanity, V and Jackie entered into the lair of the ripperdoc, a purveyor of especially interesting technological artifacts. This is a Ripperdoc - specializing in cyberwear, some docs deal in legal upgrades, but some supply less than legal tech The ripperdoc sells mechanical upgrades. In a corner of his shop, for example, the mantis blades from Cyberpunk's original teaser trailer can be seen. Shortly after her arrival, V settled into the doc's chair. He then proceeded to surgically remove her eyes, rendering our protagonist sightless. Darkness for a few seconds and then light. Those same eyes began transmitting images again, and V can see herself across the room for a short, surreal moment. The upgrade V had installed allows her to zoom in her vision to scan objects, useful for analyzing threats and concocting strategies. Some docs provide legal upgrades, others, not so much. The upgrades that V equips throughout the game depend on your playstyle. This leaves a ton of room to customize the game even further. After V finished getting fancy with new tech, Jackie returned with a vehicle in tow. Shady characters hung out by Jackie’s new baby, definitely looking ready to start some trouble. This understandably sounded some alarms for our mercenary friends. At this point, Tost jumped in to say that in this living world, random encounters can happen at any time. V and Jackie read the danger of their situation and took off in their ride, triggering a car chase. Speaking of vehicles, I only saw a few during the demo, but Tost said that a variety more exist in the game. 2077 is dominated by corporations and Meredith Stout is a top executive of one of them. In the demo, she uses V and Jackie to get what she wants. After some tense shooting and gadgetry take care of their pursuers, V and Jackie arrived at the rendezvous point to find a corporate woman waiting for them surrounded by armed guards and vehicles. It turns out she's Meredith Stout, a higher-up with the megacorporation Militech. Stout explained that she feels as if there are hidden schemes going on at Militech and wants in on the mysterious plans. She believes that V and Jackie are in on some key details that she needs. As a sassy, tough as nails mercenary, V won't willingly hand over all of the answers that Stout wants. Fully prepared for this scenario, the ruthless businesswoman hacked into V’s mind, forcing lie detector tech into her subconscious. In this future, not even your thoughts are safe. Through this interaction, branching narrative paths form that affect not only the upcoming gameplay, but the story overall. V could decide to try to fight her way out or comply with various dialogue options. After shaping the situation to her liking, Stout released V to complete the job by stealing a specialized piece of military hardware currently in the possession of a ruthless gang. This last act really got into the meat of Cyberpunk’s combat. The mission focused on retrieving a spider-like mech guarded by a well-armed gang holed up within an abandoned meat fortress. The newly acquired eye enhancements came in handy, as V used her techno peepers to spot nearby targets and plan her assault. Players can decide to go in guns and cyberwear blazing or sneak around the compound performing stealth takedowns. Or perhaps a more diplomatic solution could be reached? In the demo I saw, V negotiated for the prize. One of the fine people that V and Jackie are sent to negotiate within a fortified gang fortress. Their target this time is the piece of tech beside him. In Cyberpunk 2077, it’s not uncommon to see mechanical pieces on people. Some of these enhancements featured pretty prominently n the E3 trailer. The members of this gang don't mind the metal and wires; some have completely swapped their fleshy faces for a full-tech look. V met up with one such person to see the highly sought-after piece of military-grade equipment. The drone resembled a spider with all its limbs. Many in dangerous lines of work value its adaptive and versatile nature in all sorts of combat situations. Payment for this metallic creature resided on one of the chips seen throughout the demo. One of the gang members inserted this into their bases’ system and things go immediately awry. The woman from Millitech sabotaged the system with a virus. Bullets began to fly. V then hacked into one of the fallen enemies to gain access to the layout of the building, gaining an immediate advantage and a plan to get out. Pictured is the female V, very closely resembling how she looked in the demo. Her jacket not only looks rad, but it's also a key piece of gear called the samurai jacket that is connected to a street cred system. Combat in Cyberpunk contains both smooth movements and chaotic destruction. V slid around corners to catch targets unaware, bounced bullets off of walls to catch those hidden around corners, and utilized slow-mo to jump and shoot. It all looked fun as hell, and from what I saw and heard, the CD Projekt Red team hopes that their combat system will form around each individual players style. Escaping the fortress signaled the end of the demo. Coming out of seeing Cyberpunk 2077 firsthand, I felt a surge of enthusiasm. Night City included so many elements that I wanted to explore and questions I wanted to answer. What do interactions with NPCs really look like? What will the different game styles play like? Will the story form around this world, or around V? Will I like V? Am I supposed to? How sick will those cybernetic upgrades feel? Why do I feel so much hype from this game? Then the gameplay trailer launched to the public, and the hype grew even more. The reaction seemed fitting since we have had to wait six years since the game's announcement in 2012. Even now, we only saw the tip of the iceberg in the hour demo. It included enough to fuel my fascination with the game. However, the skeptic in me knows that some caution is healthy. Hype this big can be dangerous. Cyberpunk 2077 will either hugely benefit from following the Witcher 3 or it could lead to undeserved expectations. We saw this with Mass Effect: Andromeda which followed the hugely acclaimed Mass Effect Trilogy. The game needed to pretty much reach a level of perfection for its fans that it inevitably fell under the pressure and rushed development cycles. However, CD Projekt Red has a different way of doing things. The studio has built a rapport with its fans that we don't see very often. Fans trust the company completely as it has delivered time and time again on ever increasing expectations. CD Projekt Red has not given us a timeline for the game. Cyberpunk is available on Amazon for pre-order with a placeholder release date of December 28, 2018. Even so, it's likely we won't see the game's release this or even next year. Whenever it does reach the public, it will be playable on 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
  2. Naomi N. Lugo

    What Can We Expect from Cyberpunk 2077?

    Night City is the setting for the upcoming game from CD Projekt Red, Cyberpunk 2077. The game is based on the tabletop role-playing games Cyberpunk and Cyberpunk 2020 by Mike Pondsmith Once shrouded in mystery but still able to garner a ton of hype, we finally have a concrete vision of CD Projekt Red's latest IP, Cyberpunk 2077. This past August, CD Projekt Red released a much-anticipated gameplay reveal trailer. The trailer generously showed a 48-minute walkthrough of early-story content. This same content (likely with some differences) made its debut earlier for a select crowd at E3 2018. I got a first-hand look at this hype when I was able to snag one of the coveted spots to see this much talked about footage. Cyberpunk 2077 easily had the biggest hype behind it during E3. Press, industry, and gamers crowded the long halls leading to the private showing area just for the mere chance to be squeezed in for one of the nearly 50-minute gameplay demos. The CD Projekt Red team, hoping to spare disappointment and save time, came out periodically to tell those hopefuls that they were overbooked. I stood in that line for about two and a half hours, fighting off waves of hopelessness and persevering through pure stubbornness. About three people were let in every hour, and sometimes less. One developer came out and firmly said that absolutely no extra spots were available while another said he'd see what he can do. With a bit of luck, I managed to get in, and oh man, was all that angst worth it. Level Designer Miles Tost served as our guide through the demo. We entered the character creator first. Tost formally introduced us to a mercenary named V, our fully customizable protagonist who made a brief appearance in the official E3 trailer. V can be either female or male and has various cosmetic settings to go through; the usual sliders and color options one might expect. The class system, however, had me interested since it offered a fluid experience that changes as you play the game. The different classes aren't meant to be set in stone, allowing the player to switch between them. V can then adapt to each player's individualized playstyle while progressing through the game. For the live demo, the team chose a female V. After setting up, it was time to get immersed in Night City. Jackie Wells is a fellow assassin that accompanies V during the course of the 50-minute demo shown at E3 Located in coastal California, Night City contains six seamless districts. The city reminded me of a hybrid between Blade Runner (but with sunshine) and Fifth Element. My not-so-bold prediction pins Night City as the main setting for the majority of the game. Towering mega-buildings scatter the landscape. In one of these giant structures, we met the aforementioned V and her mercenary partner Jackie Welles. The duo work as freelance guns-for-hire, taking jobs and recognizing opportunity when it presents itself. The demo began with the duo on a mission to retrieve a high priority target, the victim of kidnapping and implant harvesting. Obtaining implants, no matter how grisly the method of acquisition, proves a lucrative business in the dark future of Cyberpunk. With this introduction to Night City, V got a bit of action hunting down organ scavengers in a cramped and dingy apartment complex. They made their way through rooms, taking out enemies until stumbling upon the female target unconscious alongside another body in an iced tub. As you've most likely read/heard by now, Cyberpunk 2077's gameplay takes place from a first-person viewpoint. This fact seemed to generate some degree of frustration from fans of CD Projekt RED who have been accustomed to The Witcher series' third-person perspective. Personally, that didn't impair the experience as a viewer. Actually, the way combat functions, first-person seems to be the optimal way to play. Combat lets the player use a combo of high-tech weapons, cybernetic abilities, stealth, good ol' fashioned head bashing, and I'm sure loads more that we haven't seen yet. It definitely ventures away from what we've seen in the Witcher series. Upon securing the iced and unconscious woman, V and Jackie pointedly ignored the other person. They'd only been hired to save one life that day. V inserted an implant behind the woman’s ear to get a reading on her vitals. Twitching and iced over, the woman clung to life. The two mercenaries quickly moved outside of the apartment to a balcony. The exterior of the tiny complex exposed a massive but crowded world. Across from the giant building that V and Jackie find themselves in stands another equally massive construction. Apparently, a lot of buildings in Night City share this form and, since they're so massive, function almost like their own cities. No good deed goes unpunished, and our two heroes quickly found themselves surrounded by aggressive armed people in matching blue uniforms with a red symbol. The interlopers demanded that the two mercenaries hand over the woman. V explained that they are hired help, but these soldiers weren’t the listening types. As quickly as they had arrived, they disappeared with the woman in a helicopter. From what Tost told us, these soldiers represent a high-end medical company. Think of them as insurance for rich people. The icy, dying woman V and Jackie retrieved happens to be a client of theirs. In the world of Cyberpunk 2077, corporations run everything and this merc'ed up medical company is just another one of them. These soldiers represent a medical corporation The stress of the job proved to be worth the trouble for V, her paycheck earning her enough to go off on a three-day bender off-screen. The action resumed with an NSFW scene featuring a half-naked V in bed next to an equally half-naked stranger. Tost jumped in to say that this game contains mature content, definitely not a first for CD Projekt Red. He also revealed that Night City contains many inhabitants, a large amount of which V can interact with. These types of interactions could vary between random encounters with enemies to new partners with which V can bring on missions and likely a lot of things in-between. After her wild series of days, V needed to get back to work. Luckily, Jackie called with an exciting lead: A new client that could launch their careers into the stratosphere. The client, Dexter DeShaw, had a request for the two mercenaries, the details relayed via a shard that V plugged into her head. After downloading the mission info, V and Jackie left to prepare for the job. V followed Jackie through the streets of Night City. At street level, the space seemed overwhelming. The cityscape loomed overhead with skyscrapers taking up every scrap of sky. Life kept moving around V as she walked with Jackie. NPC's interacted with each other apparently leading their own lives, according to the devs, within Cyberpunk 2077. This makes the fact that V can interact with all of the NPCs that she dodged around certainly impressive. The NPCs themselves all had labels above their heads, giving a bit more characterization to the world. Pressing on through the mass of humanity, V and Jackie entered into the lair of the ripperdoc, a purveyor of especially interesting technological artifacts. This is a Ripperdoc - specializing in cyberwear, some docs deal in legal upgrades, but some supply less than legal tech The ripperdoc sells mechanical upgrades. In a corner of his shop, for example, the mantis blades from Cyberpunk's original teaser trailer can be seen. Shortly after her arrival, V settled into the doc's chair. He then proceeded to surgically remove her eyes, rendering our protagonist sightless. Darkness for a few seconds and then light. Those same eyes began transmitting images again, and V can see herself across the room for a short, surreal moment. The upgrade V had installed allows her to zoom in her vision to scan objects, useful for analyzing threats and concocting strategies. Some docs provide legal upgrades, others, not so much. The upgrades that V equips throughout the game depend on your playstyle. This leaves a ton of room to customize the game even further. After V finished getting fancy with new tech, Jackie returned with a vehicle in tow. Shady characters hung out by Jackie’s new baby, definitely looking ready to start some trouble. This understandably sounded some alarms for our mercenary friends. At this point, Tost jumped in to say that in this living world, random encounters can happen at any time. V and Jackie read the danger of their situation and took off in their ride, triggering a car chase. Speaking of vehicles, I only saw a few during the demo, but Tost said that a variety more exist in the game. 2077 is dominated by corporations and Meredith Stout is a top executive of one of them. In the demo, she uses V and Jackie to get what she wants. After some tense shooting and gadgetry take care of their pursuers, V and Jackie arrived at the rendezvous point to find a corporate woman waiting for them surrounded by armed guards and vehicles. It turns out she's Meredith Stout, a higher-up with the megacorporation Militech. Stout explained that she feels as if there are hidden schemes going on at Militech and wants in on the mysterious plans. She believes that V and Jackie are in on some key details that she needs. As a sassy, tough as nails mercenary, V won't willingly hand over all of the answers that Stout wants. Fully prepared for this scenario, the ruthless businesswoman hacked into V’s mind, forcing lie detector tech into her subconscious. In this future, not even your thoughts are safe. Through this interaction, branching narrative paths form that affect not only the upcoming gameplay, but the story overall. V could decide to try to fight her way out or comply with various dialogue options. After shaping the situation to her liking, Stout released V to complete the job by stealing a specialized piece of military hardware currently in the possession of a ruthless gang. This last act really got into the meat of Cyberpunk’s combat. The mission focused on retrieving a spider-like mech guarded by a well-armed gang holed up within an abandoned meat fortress. The newly acquired eye enhancements came in handy, as V used her techno peepers to spot nearby targets and plan her assault. Players can decide to go in guns and cyberwear blazing or sneak around the compound performing stealth takedowns. Or perhaps a more diplomatic solution could be reached? In the demo I saw, V negotiated for the prize. One of the fine people that V and Jackie are sent to negotiate within a fortified gang fortress. Their target this time is the piece of tech beside him. In Cyberpunk 2077, it’s not uncommon to see mechanical pieces on people. Some of these enhancements featured pretty prominently n the E3 trailer. The members of this gang don't mind the metal and wires; some have completely swapped their fleshy faces for a full-tech look. V met up with one such person to see the highly sought-after piece of military-grade equipment. The drone resembled a spider with all its limbs. Many in dangerous lines of work value its adaptive and versatile nature in all sorts of combat situations. Payment for this metallic creature resided on one of the chips seen throughout the demo. One of the gang members inserted this into their bases’ system and things go immediately awry. The woman from Millitech sabotaged the system with a virus. Bullets began to fly. V then hacked into one of the fallen enemies to gain access to the layout of the building, gaining an immediate advantage and a plan to get out. Pictured is the female V, very closely resembling how she looked in the demo. Her jacket not only looks rad, but it's also a key piece of gear called the samurai jacket that is connected to a street cred system. Combat in Cyberpunk contains both smooth movements and chaotic destruction. V slid around corners to catch targets unaware, bounced bullets off of walls to catch those hidden around corners, and utilized slow-mo to jump and shoot. It all looked fun as hell, and from what I saw and heard, the CD Projekt Red team hopes that their combat system will form around each individual players style. Escaping the fortress signaled the end of the demo. Coming out of seeing Cyberpunk 2077 firsthand, I felt a surge of enthusiasm. Night City included so many elements that I wanted to explore and questions I wanted to answer. What do interactions with NPCs really look like? What will the different game styles play like? Will the story form around this world, or around V? Will I like V? Am I supposed to? How sick will those cybernetic upgrades feel? Why do I feel so much hype from this game? Then the gameplay trailer launched to the public, and the hype grew even more. The reaction seemed fitting since we have had to wait six years since the game's announcement in 2012. Even now, we only saw the tip of the iceberg in the hour demo. It included enough to fuel my fascination with the game. However, the skeptic in me knows that some caution is healthy. Hype this big can be dangerous. Cyberpunk 2077 will either hugely benefit from following the Witcher 3 or it could lead to undeserved expectations. We saw this with Mass Effect: Andromeda which followed the hugely acclaimed Mass Effect Trilogy. The game needed to pretty much reach a level of perfection for its fans that it inevitably fell under the pressure and rushed development cycles. However, CD Projekt Red has a different way of doing things. The studio has built a rapport with its fans that we don't see very often. Fans trust the company completely as it has delivered time and time again on ever increasing expectations. CD Projekt Red has not given us a timeline for the game. Cyberpunk is available on Amazon for pre-order with a placeholder release date of December 28, 2018. Even so, it's likely we won't see the game's release this or even next year. Whenever it does reach the public, it will be playable on 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!
  3. The Space Hulk tabletop game has entertained Warhammer 40,000 fans for decades. The Space Marine vs Genestealer conflict spilled into the world of video games in the early 90’s, spawning numerous titles ranging from real-time strategy to first-person shooters. Space Hulk: Tactics isn’t the first turn-based strategy entry, but its new card system and two narrative-focused campaigns seperate it from the pack. The two distinct story campaigns center on the Blood Angels chapter of the Terminator Space Marines and the alien Genestealers. This marks the first time the ferocious monsters have been playable in a Space Hulk campaign. Like the board game, players guide a squad through the narrow corridors of the Space Hulk vessels. Marines must fulfil objectives such as escaping or eliminating a target. Genestealers need to slaughter their armored foes before they complete their mission. Outside of these narratives, players can battle in skirmishes against the AI or face other players in competitive multiplayer. I played match against a developer using the Blood Angels while he chose the Genestealers. My objective was to reach a room in order to scorch it with a flamethrower. Only one of my units could perform this task so I had to escort him to the point safely. Players position units or attack adversaries by spending Action Points. Characters have a limited amount of these points, so it’s important to plan ahead for obstacles such as locked doors or surprise enemy spawns. Units fill a specific roles such as Medics, Librarians (psychic-powered mystics), or Assaults, and can use staple genre abilities such as overwatch in addition to their class abilities. Genestealers, whose ranks include powerful Broodlords and nimble Reaperfexes, are placed at spawn points and swarm their prey in waves. Since the opponent can’t see where Genestealers get positioned, savvy players can set up surprise ambushes. Genestealers can even place decoys to throw off the other player. A new card system offers another strategic twist. Equipping units with cards bestows powerful abilities and bonuses. For example, a card may award more points for killing certain enemy types or deal extra melee damage. Tactics features over 80 cards to collect, each one playing a substantial role in combat and tactical decision-making. Cards can also be destroyed in exchange for extra action points for Marines or to summon new units for Genestealers. I like the strategy and flexibility of gaining more actions by sacrificing an ability I may not need in the moment. A first-person option is one of the game’s coolest features. Hitting a button causes the view to shift from a standard top-down angle to witnessing the action from the character’s perspective. Not only does this look neat, but it helps with lining up attacks more accurately or to better identify environmental elements. When playing competitively players can control four chapters (basically factions) of Space Marines: Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, and Dark Angels. Squad customization allows for units to be modified by body part with various armor types and color schemes. With plenty of options at their disposal, players can create squads that suit their visual fancy. I also got a brief look at the mission editor. Players can craft their own levels to share with others online. The intuitive controls make it a cinch to construct corridors and place elements such as auto-turrets and other traps. Visual variations of each tile means stages can take on the gothic look of imperial ships or the metallic hodgepodge of orc vessels, among others. Players can assign multiple objectives to their missions, with Terminators and Genestealers having their own dedicated tasks. Admittedly, I’m not much of a Warhammer 40K fan. However, strategy games make my soul smile, and Space Hulk: Tactics strikes many of the right notes for the genre. I had a good time playing and could see myself getting into the experience despite having no affinity for the intricate lore. Look for the game on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One when it launches on October 9. 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!
  4. The Space Hulk tabletop game has entertained Warhammer 40,000 fans for decades. The Space Marine vs Genestealer conflict spilled into the world of video games in the early 90’s, spawning numerous titles ranging from real-time strategy to first-person shooters. Space Hulk: Tactics isn’t the first turn-based strategy entry, but its new card system and two narrative-focused campaigns seperate it from the pack. The two distinct story campaigns center on the Blood Angels chapter of the Terminator Space Marines and the alien Genestealers. This marks the first time the ferocious monsters have been playable in a Space Hulk campaign. Like the board game, players guide a squad through the narrow corridors of the Space Hulk vessels. Marines must fulfil objectives such as escaping or eliminating a target. Genestealers need to slaughter their armored foes before they complete their mission. Outside of these narratives, players can battle in skirmishes against the AI or face other players in competitive multiplayer. I played match against a developer using the Blood Angels while he chose the Genestealers. My objective was to reach a room in order to scorch it with a flamethrower. Only one of my units could perform this task so I had to escort him to the point safely. Players position units or attack adversaries by spending Action Points. Characters have a limited amount of these points, so it’s important to plan ahead for obstacles such as locked doors or surprise enemy spawns. Units fill a specific roles such as Medics, Librarians (psychic-powered mystics), or Assaults, and can use staple genre abilities such as overwatch in addition to their class abilities. Genestealers, whose ranks include powerful Broodlords and nimble Reaperfexes, are placed at spawn points and swarm their prey in waves. Since the opponent can’t see where Genestealers get positioned, savvy players can set up surprise ambushes. Genestealers can even place decoys to throw off the other player. A new card system offers another strategic twist. Equipping units with cards bestows powerful abilities and bonuses. For example, a card may award more points for killing certain enemy types or deal extra melee damage. Tactics features over 80 cards to collect, each one playing a substantial role in combat and tactical decision-making. Cards can also be destroyed in exchange for extra action points for Marines or to summon new units for Genestealers. I like the strategy and flexibility of gaining more actions by sacrificing an ability I may not need in the moment. A first-person option is one of the game’s coolest features. Hitting a button causes the view to shift from a standard top-down angle to witnessing the action from the character’s perspective. Not only does this look neat, but it helps with lining up attacks more accurately or to better identify environmental elements. When playing competitively players can control four chapters (basically factions) of Space Marines: Blood Angels, Space Wolves, Ultramarines, and Dark Angels. Squad customization allows for units to be modified by body part with various armor types and color schemes. With plenty of options at their disposal, players can create squads that suit their visual fancy. I also got a brief look at the mission editor. Players can craft their own levels to share with others online. The intuitive controls make it a cinch to construct corridors and place elements such as auto-turrets and other traps. Visual variations of each tile means stages can take on the gothic look of imperial ships or the metallic hodgepodge of orc vessels, among others. Players can assign multiple objectives to their missions, with Terminators and Genestealers having their own dedicated tasks. Admittedly, I’m not much of a Warhammer 40K fan. However, strategy games make my soul smile, and Space Hulk: Tactics strikes many of the right notes for the genre. I had a good time playing and could see myself getting into the experience despite having no affinity for the intricate lore. Look for the game on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One when it launches on October 9. 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
  5. Farming Simulator 19 commemorates the series’ 10th anniversary, and Giants Software plans to make it its biggest title yet. An overhauled presentation raises the visuals to impressive heights. The addition of wildlife introduces a new level of life and dynamism. Bigger than all of that, though, is the long-awaited inclusion of the iconic John Deere license. The world’s most popular farming brand makes its Farming Simulator debut after years of fan demand. John Deere’s popular 8400R tractor graces the cover art and will be one of several machines players can hop behind. Alongside John Deere will be the usual robust suite of agricultural brands, including Case IH, Challenger, Fendt, Valtra, New Holland, and more. Giants Software also showed off weeders and sprayers. Though they’ve appeared before, they’re now used to deal with new, troublesome weeds. These pesky plants grow in between crops and reduce their yield. The weeder can eradicate of these weeds while leaving crops intact. Unfortunately, weeders can only deal with weeds at a certain height; if it grows too high, it won’t be of use. That’s where sprayers come in. Sprayers kill weeds too tall for the weeder to eat up. To use it, players must refuel by purchasing herbicides. However, the dual-purpose machine can also be filled with fertilizer to quickly cultivate a field. Between the weeder and sprayer, the players have a choice between using chemicals or manual labor to remedy weed issues. Forestry, a fan favorite activity, has been made easier thanks to improvements to the crane used for tree cutting. When players move the crane forward, the head always stays at the same height–no need to constantly re-adjust it like in past titles. Giants Software plans to add more forestry equipment and the trees themselves have been remodeled to look better than ever. On the subject of things looking nicer, the aptly named Giants engine allows for new levels of realism. Effects such as HDR rendering, global illumination, depth-of-field, and 3D shadows make the scenic farms look more gorgeous than they ever have before. Grass casts shadows, and the formerly flat bushes have been upgraded to thick ones. The sky box, once a static flat image, now contains 3D objects like the a sun and moon that move across it. Furthermore, improved clouds grow darker to signify impending storms. Thanks to the realistic temperature changes, heat will rise on sunny, cloud-free days. Conversely, more overcast weather results in a temperature drop. Weather can even produce fog. Smaller touches, such as the farmer inside the vehicles having a pedal-pressing animation and more realistic machine movements, lend to the increased authenticity. The equipment customization introduced in the previous Farming Simulator also sport improvements. The old 2D preview image, which limited how much players could observe customization changes before finalizing a purchase, has been replaced by a fully viewable 3D version. Now, players can see exactly what they’re getting before they commit to a change. Customizations options include front-loaders, engine setups, and color changes (except for John Deere equipment). More tire setups will also be included and affect gameplay. For example, wide tires have more friction and narrow tires destroy less crops as players drive through them. Farming Simulator is all about the crops and 19 introduces cotton and oat. A cotton harvester comes with the former. Oat plays a vital role as not only a crop but also as food for horses, which segues into the other big addition: wildlife. At the request of fans, Farming Simulator 19 includes animals for the first time. The aforementioned horses can ridden around the farm. Players can own a dog, though his use was not finalized at the time of the presentation. Non-domesticated creatures function as a randomized gameplay mechanic. Sometimes when players plant seeds, birds will swoop down to pick those seeds out of the ground to eat. Beyond birds, Giants Software plans to include other species though they didn’t confirm any specifically. Player-created mods have become a popular aspect of the series. One award-winning mod, called Seasons, added all four seasons to one of the previous entries. Farming Simulator 19 continues to support these creators thanks to its compatibility with the developer’s mod website. Mods will also be available on console versions, albeit with some differences due to hardware and licensing limitations. For the first time, Farming Simulator 19 will ship with two brand new maps (it’s usually one new and one returning map); a European and an American area. The U.S. map offers a wide open space, addressing prior complaints that they were unrealistically similar to the smaller U.K. maps. Additionally, a bonus third map, the South American area featured in Farming Simulator 17’s Platinum Expansion, will be a free download on launch day. Giants Software aims to improve the sandbox feeling of the game. They plan on giving players more options to freely mess around and plow their fields as they see fit. On top of that, they want to improve the looks of placeables objects like solar panels, wind turbines, garages. Farming Simulator 19 once again supports multiplayer; 16 players on PC/Mac and 6 on consoles. With a decade of experience under its belt, Farming Simulator appears on track to be the biggest and most complete package yet. Budding and veteran farmers alike can pick up the game when it releases for PC, Mac, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 20. 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. Farming Simulator 19 commemorates the series’ 10th anniversary, and Giants Software plans to make it its biggest title yet. An overhauled presentation raises the visuals to impressive heights. The addition of wildlife introduces a new level of life and dynamism. Bigger than all of that, though, is the long-awaited inclusion of the iconic John Deere license. The world’s most popular farming brand makes its Farming Simulator debut after years of fan demand. John Deere’s popular 8400R tractor graces the cover art and will be one of several machines players can hop behind. Alongside John Deere will be the usual robust suite of agricultural brands, including Case IH, Challenger, Fendt, Valtra, New Holland, and more. Giants Software also showed off weeders and sprayers. Though they’ve appeared before, they’re now used to deal with new, troublesome weeds. These pesky plants grow in between crops and reduce their yield. The weeder can eradicate of these weeds while leaving crops intact. Unfortunately, weeders can only deal with weeds at a certain height; if it grows too high, it won’t be of use. That’s where sprayers come in. Sprayers kill weeds too tall for the weeder to eat up. To use it, players must refuel by purchasing herbicides. However, the dual-purpose machine can also be filled with fertilizer to quickly cultivate a field. Between the weeder and sprayer, the players have a choice between using chemicals or manual labor to remedy weed issues. Forestry, a fan favorite activity, has been made easier thanks to improvements to the crane used for tree cutting. When players move the crane forward, the head always stays at the same height–no need to constantly re-adjust it like in past titles. Giants Software plans to add more forestry equipment and the trees themselves have been remodeled to look better than ever. On the subject of things looking nicer, the aptly named Giants engine allows for new levels of realism. Effects such as HDR rendering, global illumination, depth-of-field, and 3D shadows make the scenic farms look more gorgeous than they ever have before. Grass casts shadows, and the formerly flat bushes have been upgraded to thick ones. The sky box, once a static flat image, now contains 3D objects like the a sun and moon that move across it. Furthermore, improved clouds grow darker to signify impending storms. Thanks to the realistic temperature changes, heat will rise on sunny, cloud-free days. Conversely, more overcast weather results in a temperature drop. Weather can even produce fog. Smaller touches, such as the farmer inside the vehicles having a pedal-pressing animation and more realistic machine movements, lend to the increased authenticity. The equipment customization introduced in the previous Farming Simulator also sport improvements. The old 2D preview image, which limited how much players could observe customization changes before finalizing a purchase, has been replaced by a fully viewable 3D version. Now, players can see exactly what they’re getting before they commit to a change. Customizations options include front-loaders, engine setups, and color changes (except for John Deere equipment). More tire setups will also be included and affect gameplay. For example, wide tires have more friction and narrow tires destroy less crops as players drive through them. Farming Simulator is all about the crops and 19 introduces cotton and oat. A cotton harvester comes with the former. Oat plays a vital role as not only a crop but also as food for horses, which segues into the other big addition: wildlife. At the request of fans, Farming Simulator 19 includes animals for the first time. The aforementioned horses can ridden around the farm. Players can own a dog, though his use was not finalized at the time of the presentation. Non-domesticated creatures function as a randomized gameplay mechanic. Sometimes when players plant seeds, birds will swoop down to pick those seeds out of the ground to eat. Beyond birds, Giants Software plans to include other species though they didn’t confirm any specifically. Player-created mods have become a popular aspect of the series. One award-winning mod, called Seasons, added all four seasons to one of the previous entries. Farming Simulator 19 continues to support these creators thanks to its compatibility with the developer’s mod website. Mods will also be available on console versions, albeit with some differences due to hardware and licensing limitations. For the first time, Farming Simulator 19 will ship with two brand new maps (it’s usually one new and one returning map); a European and an American area. The U.S. map offers a wide open space, addressing prior complaints that they were unrealistically similar to the smaller U.K. maps. Additionally, a bonus third map, the South American area featured in Farming Simulator 17’s Platinum Expansion, will be a free download on launch day. Giants Software aims to improve the sandbox feeling of the game. They plan on giving players more options to freely mess around and plow their fields as they see fit. On top of that, they want to improve the looks of placeables objects like solar panels, wind turbines, garages. Farming Simulator 19 once again supports multiplayer; 16 players on PC/Mac and 6 on consoles. With a decade of experience under its belt, Farming Simulator appears on track to be the biggest and most complete package yet. Budding and veteran farmers alike can pick up the game when it releases for PC, Mac, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 on November 20. 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. Two worlds. One demon. Over a dozen heroes. That’s what players have on their plates in Shadows: Awakening, Games Farm’s latest installment in their Heretic Kingdoms saga (which includes 2014’s Shadows: Heretic Kingdom). This unique isometric RPG blends choice-driven storytelling, loot-based gameplay, and an inventive world shifting feature for what looks to be an engrossing experience. Players control a demon called the Devourer that resides in the Shadow Realm. As its name suggests, this entity consumes the souls of fallen heroes. Those spirits then become its puppets, which the Devourer uses to bring them back into the mortal plane. The demon has access to their memories and personality allowing him to essentially masquerade as the hero to fulfill its own agenda. The game begins with players choosing the first hero to leech off of from a choice of three. This primary hero comes with a unique backstory that ties into which quests players receive, how they play out, and influences the main plot’s evolution. Because of this, Shadows: Awakening requires multiple playthroughs using different starting characters in order to experience everything it has to offer. Evia, one of the primary heroes, died 300 years prior and hailed from an imperial family. However, her bloodline’s regime fell sometime after her demise, so her motivations involve finding out what happened to her family and the imperium. The warrior Kalik was killed by his own son just a few years ago. Thus, he seeks to find his offspring and exact revenge. Up to 15 heroes can be recruited to the player’s party throughout the adventure. For my demo, Evia drew the lucky straw as the chosen protagonist. Players traverse two separate realms, human and Shadow, by toggling between them in real-time at the press of a button. This also switches control between the demon and human. The Shadow realm appears as a dark reflection of the mortal world but contains notable differences that players must exploit to solve puzzles and find secrets. A basic example could be getting past a broken bridge in the Shadow Realm by walking across its intact counterpart in the living realm. The procedurally generated levels feature equally randomized loot with the exception of hand-placed secrets and powerful items. While in the Shadow Realm, time halts in the other world. I watched the player take advantage of this, freezing moving platforms in the human world by switching to the demon’s. This condition can also be useful in combat. Having a tough time battling a earthly foe? Jump to the Shadow Realm mid-fight for a quick breather–provided the coast is clear there as well. Games Farm designed many combat encounters with realm-swapping in mind. I witnessed a boss battle against a spider demon that had surrounded itself with a shadow shield that was impenetrable in the human reality but vulnerable in the Shadow Realm. Thus, the demon had to break the shield first, allowing the human to finish it off. Shadows: Awakening eschews a traditional party system for something more streamlined. Instead of all four characters roaming at once, players control one at a time by swapping between them on-the-fly. Games Farm designed the game primarily for consoles and thought this would ease the clunkiness of managing party members on PC. Characters interact with each other and hold specific conversations depending on who’s matched with whom and their relationship. One pair of heroes happen to be ex-lovers, so putting them in your party leads to some awkward, hostile dialogue between them. Combat has a similar flavor to Diablo. However, a synergetic network simplifies the team tactics of Dota/League of Legends to allow a single-player to perform them. An example is a goblin throwing an oil flask at enemies to reduce their fire defense, then using a fire mage to deal extra damage. An inquisitor summoning rotating blades after first casting her tornado attack will cause the blades to spin faster and deal more damage. Progression boasts hearty depth. Upon leveling up, characters earn points to spend towards four main attributes, which basically act as classes. Additionally, there are separate skill points used for upgrading one of eight total skills. Each skill has three levels, creating further nuance that allows players to build a playstyle that suits them. With 15 heroes possessing sets of eight unique skills, that makes for over 120 total skills in the game. With so many stats to wrap your brain around, I’m thankful that the game features an option for simplifying the leveling process. For those who just want to see that overall number go up without messing with the nitty gritty, you can choose to raise a blanket talent and its subsequent stats rise automatically. Detailed-oriented players fear not. You can still manually upgrade every individual stat if you prefer to be more hands-on. Furthermore, experience share amongst the party eliminates the need to grind using each individual hero. The same ease of use applies to Items and gear. New equipment can be quickly compared to current loadouts via an icon that clearly communicates if something is better. This provides a quick at-a-glance for those who don’t want to get bogged by the details and just want to know if a new weapon beats their current one. Again, If you care to know exactly how that new shield trumps your equipped one, the full stats are provided. The main story and sidequests heavily emphasize player choice. One mission I saw featured a drunkard who murdered his wife and asked the player to help him dispose of the body. Players can either perform the dark deed, hand the man over to the guards, or just do nothing. A critical story moment involves deciding the fate of an important female character. Deciding not to rescue her causes her to disappear from the story, which in turn locks out some future content. Furthermore, a karma mechanic causes the demon to physically change based on the player’s decisions. It can become more angelic, sprouting wings for example, or increasingly demonic. Shadows: Awakening may resemble a Diablo clone on the surface, but its inventive mechanics and focus on accessibility make it a game worth keeping an eye on. Boasting at least 60 hours worth of content and a ton of replayability, it should keep fans engaged in its dual worlds for the long haul. I can’t speak for when it releases in the Shadow Realm, but it arrives in our realm on August 31 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 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
  8. Two worlds. One demon. Over a dozen heroes. That’s what players have on their plates in Shadows: Awakening, Games Farm’s latest installment in their Heretic Kingdoms saga (which includes 2014’s Shadows: Heretic Kingdom). This unique isometric RPG blends choice-driven storytelling, loot-based gameplay, and an inventive world shifting feature for what looks to be an engrossing experience. Players control a demon called the Devourer that resides in the Shadow Realm. As its name suggests, this entity consumes the souls of fallen heroes. Those spirits then become its puppets, which the Devourer uses to bring them back into the mortal plane. The demon has access to their memories and personality allowing him to essentially masquerade as the hero to fulfill its own agenda. The game begins with players choosing the first hero to leech off of from a choice of three. This primary hero comes with a unique backstory that ties into which quests players receive, how they play out, and influences the main plot’s evolution. Because of this, Shadows: Awakening requires multiple playthroughs using different starting characters in order to experience everything it has to offer. Evia, one of the primary heroes, died 300 years prior and hailed from an imperial family. However, her bloodline’s regime fell sometime after her demise, so her motivations involve finding out what happened to her family and the imperium. The warrior Kalik was killed by his own son just a few years ago. Thus, he seeks to find his offspring and exact revenge. Up to 15 heroes can be recruited to the player’s party throughout the adventure. For my demo, Evia drew the lucky straw as the chosen protagonist. Players traverse two separate realms, human and Shadow, by toggling between them in real-time at the press of a button. This also switches control between the demon and human. The Shadow realm appears as a dark reflection of the mortal world but contains notable differences that players must exploit to solve puzzles and find secrets. A basic example could be getting past a broken bridge in the Shadow Realm by walking across its intact counterpart in the living realm. The procedurally generated levels feature equally randomized loot with the exception of hand-placed secrets and powerful items. While in the Shadow Realm, time halts in the other world. I watched the player take advantage of this, freezing moving platforms in the human world by switching to the demon’s. This condition can also be useful in combat. Having a tough time battling a earthly foe? Jump to the Shadow Realm mid-fight for a quick breather–provided the coast is clear there as well. Games Farm designed many combat encounters with realm-swapping in mind. I witnessed a boss battle against a spider demon that had surrounded itself with a shadow shield that was impenetrable in the human reality but vulnerable in the Shadow Realm. Thus, the demon had to break the shield first, allowing the human to finish it off. Shadows: Awakening eschews a traditional party system for something more streamlined. Instead of all four characters roaming at once, players control one at a time by swapping between them on-the-fly. Games Farm designed the game primarily for consoles and thought this would ease the clunkiness of managing party members on PC. Characters interact with each other and hold specific conversations depending on who’s matched with whom and their relationship. One pair of heroes happen to be ex-lovers, so putting them in your party leads to some awkward, hostile dialogue between them. Combat has a similar flavor to Diablo. However, a synergetic network simplifies the team tactics of Dota/League of Legends to allow a single-player to perform them. An example is a goblin throwing an oil flask at enemies to reduce their fire defense, then using a fire mage to deal extra damage. An inquisitor summoning rotating blades after first casting her tornado attack will cause the blades to spin faster and deal more damage. Progression boasts hearty depth. Upon leveling up, characters earn points to spend towards four main attributes, which basically act as classes. Additionally, there are separate skill points used for upgrading one of eight total skills. Each skill has three levels, creating further nuance that allows players to build a playstyle that suits them. With 15 heroes possessing sets of eight unique skills, that makes for over 120 total skills in the game. With so many stats to wrap your brain around, I’m thankful that the game features an option for simplifying the leveling process. For those who just want to see that overall number go up without messing with the nitty gritty, you can choose to raise a blanket talent and its subsequent stats rise automatically. Detailed-oriented players fear not. You can still manually upgrade every individual stat if you prefer to be more hands-on. Furthermore, experience share amongst the party eliminates the need to grind using each individual hero. The same ease of use applies to Items and gear. New equipment can be quickly compared to current loadouts via an icon that clearly communicates if something is better. This provides a quick at-a-glance for those who don’t want to get bogged by the details and just want to know if a new weapon beats their current one. Again, If you care to know exactly how that new shield trumps your equipped one, the full stats are provided. The main story and sidequests heavily emphasize player choice. One mission I saw featured a drunkard who murdered his wife and asked the player to help him dispose of the body. Players can either perform the dark deed, hand the man over to the guards, or just do nothing. A critical story moment involves deciding the fate of an important female character. Deciding not to rescue her causes her to disappear from the story, which in turn locks out some future content. Furthermore, a karma mechanic causes the demon to physically change based on the player’s decisions. It can become more angelic, sprouting wings for example, or increasingly demonic. Shadows: Awakening may resemble a Diablo clone on the surface, but its inventive mechanics and focus on accessibility make it a game worth keeping an eye on. Boasting at least 60 hours worth of content and a ton of replayability, it should keep fans engaged in its dual worlds for the long haul. I can’t speak for when it releases in the Shadow Realm, but it arrives in our realm on August 31 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, 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!
  9. Tropico 6 gives fans another opportunity to live out their power fantasies. Once again taking up the mantle of El Presidente, their goal is to stay in power as either a benevolent ruler or ruthless dictator. Like previous entries, accomplishing this involves building an island empire across multiple historical eras. Players manage their land resources, the economy, and the individual lives of citizens, to to maximize their profit. Kalypso walked me through Tropico 6’s new twist during E3 and here’s what I came away with. Expanded Scope Previous Tropico games gave players control of a single island. Tropico 6 expands that control to several archipelagos. These satellite islands come with their own challenges as well as building features. For example, players connect islands using a new bridge-building mechanic. Additionally, bridges act as additional production chains for efficiently transporting goods and citizens. Players can now implement new transportation modes such as bus stations and taxis. Bus routes give Tropicans that lack their own cars a speedier method of getting from point A to B (ideally point B is their job) as opposed to walking. Tunnel construction allows players to reach new secluded areas and provide another alternative method for transporting goods. Tunnels become available in modern eras. Cable cars ferry citizens people up Tropico 6’s increasingly elevated areas, such as tall plateaus. Deeper Control and Customization Work Modes, a feature absent in Tropico 5, makes a return in 6. It allows players to adjust how buildings operate in terms of what type of Tropicans can access them. For example, a building open to all citizens can be changed so that only upper class residents can access it. Work Modes affect population happiness. Too much emphasis on only pleasing the wealthy could cause the lower classes to become unhappy and even riot. It’s also possible to adjust existing buildings to emphasize a certain Happiness Value. During my demonstration, the developer wanted to increase the budget of a tavern. However, an edict prohibiting alcohol was negatively impacting the business. By removing that edict, the tavern’s efficiency increased. The developer then changed the Work Mode to all you can drink in order to to further raise the building’s revenue. For the first time, El Presidente’s palace can be customized. Players can mess with the building’s color, general layout, and add gaudy touches such as swimming pools, helipads, and even a giant hologram of the leader himself. The palace can also be relocated, which has been a community requested feature. A Change of Scenery Visual variation is a key point of focus for Tropico 6. The tropical setting remains the norm but new areas include arid, hostile environments. I saw active volcanoes, jagged cliffs, and a significantly wetter swampy marsh. Time-of-day changes, backed by new lighting effects, add another layer of visual shine. Weather changes along with disasters such as thunderstorms not only look impressive but can impact gameplay by destroying buildings. Environments have gameplay implications as well. In one mission, El Presidente realizes that a particular island is too inhospitable to produce the necessary resources for his expanding his empire. Thus, he responds by sending out citizens as pirates to roam the seas and plunder other islands for their goods. This lead to the next key point. Raiding El Presidente can now order his underlings to pilfer resources from foreign lands. I watched a scenario set in the Colonial era where the player’s pirates needed to make rum. The rum distillery required sugar to function but the infertile island couldn’t support a sugar plantation. Instead, the player sent out a band of pirates locate a nation with sugar ripe for swiping. Sure, players can trade or find other means of gathering resources. However, pulling off a successful heist feels satisfying. Tropicans can even steal landmarks from other nations. Offering monuments such as a Mayan pyramid or the Taj Mahal to El Presidente allows players to build them on their island. Landmarks not only look cool but offer various, unspecified gameplay effects. Fulfilling these heists requires players to first complete a series of quests. Be careful though; stealing too much from another superpower may invite their wrath. A new Relationship Rating displays El Presidente’s standing with other countries. The Warfare feature, a staple of the series, allows powerhouses like Russia to attack if players anger them too much. Additionally, Tropico 6 ships with 15 mission maps that all have unique stories attached to them with their own timelines and narrations. The four-player multiplayer introduced in Tropico 5 makes a return as well. Tropico 6 launches for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One 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
  10. Tropico 6 gives fans another opportunity to live out their power fantasies. Once again taking up the mantle of El Presidente, their goal is to stay in power as either a benevolent ruler or ruthless dictator. Like previous entries, accomplishing this involves building an island empire across multiple historical eras. Players manage their land resources, the economy, and the individual lives of citizens, to to maximize their profit. Kalypso walked me through Tropico 6’s new twist during E3 and here’s what I came away with. Expanded Scope Previous Tropico games gave players control of a single island. Tropico 6 expands that control to several archipelagos. These satellite islands come with their own challenges as well as building features. For example, players connect islands using a new bridge-building mechanic. Additionally, bridges act as additional production chains for efficiently transporting goods and citizens. Players can now implement new transportation modes such as bus stations and taxis. Bus routes give Tropicans that lack their own cars a speedier method of getting from point A to B (ideally point B is their job) as opposed to walking. Tunnel construction allows players to reach new secluded areas and provide another alternative method for transporting goods. Tunnels become available in modern eras. Cable cars ferry citizens people up Tropico 6’s increasingly elevated areas, such as tall plateaus. Deeper Control and Customization Work Modes, a feature absent in Tropico 5, makes a return in 6. It allows players to adjust how buildings operate in terms of what type of Tropicans can access them. For example, a building open to all citizens can be changed so that only upper class residents can access it. Work Modes affect population happiness. Too much emphasis on only pleasing the wealthy could cause the lower classes to become unhappy and even riot. It’s also possible to adjust existing buildings to emphasize a certain Happiness Value. During my demonstration, the developer wanted to increase the budget of a tavern. However, an edict prohibiting alcohol was negatively impacting the business. By removing that edict, the tavern’s efficiency increased. The developer then changed the Work Mode to all you can drink in order to to further raise the building’s revenue. For the first time, El Presidente’s palace can be customized. Players can mess with the building’s color, general layout, and add gaudy touches such as swimming pools, helipads, and even a giant hologram of the leader himself. The palace can also be relocated, which has been a community requested feature. A Change of Scenery Visual variation is a key point of focus for Tropico 6. The tropical setting remains the norm but new areas include arid, hostile environments. I saw active volcanoes, jagged cliffs, and a significantly wetter swampy marsh. Time-of-day changes, backed by new lighting effects, add another layer of visual shine. Weather changes along with disasters such as thunderstorms not only look impressive but can impact gameplay by destroying buildings. Environments have gameplay implications as well. In one mission, El Presidente realizes that a particular island is too inhospitable to produce the necessary resources for his expanding his empire. Thus, he responds by sending out citizens as pirates to roam the seas and plunder other islands for their goods. This lead to the next key point. Raiding El Presidente can now order his underlings to pilfer resources from foreign lands. I watched a scenario set in the Colonial era where the player’s pirates needed to make rum. The rum distillery required sugar to function but the infertile island couldn’t support a sugar plantation. Instead, the player sent out a band of pirates locate a nation with sugar ripe for swiping. Sure, players can trade or find other means of gathering resources. However, pulling off a successful heist feels satisfying. Tropicans can even steal landmarks from other nations. Offering monuments such as a Mayan pyramid or the Taj Mahal to El Presidente allows players to build them on their island. Landmarks not only look cool but offer various, unspecified gameplay effects. Fulfilling these heists requires players to first complete a series of quests. Be careful though; stealing too much from another superpower may invite their wrath. A new Relationship Rating displays El Presidente’s standing with other countries. The Warfare feature, a staple of the series, allows powerhouses like Russia to attack if players anger them too much. Additionally, Tropico 6 ships with 15 mission maps that all have unique stories attached to them with their own timelines and narrations. The four-player multiplayer introduced in Tropico 5 makes a return as well. Tropico 6 launches for PC, Mac, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One 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!
  11. If Dan Smith isn't a name you know in video games, you should fix that mistake as soon as possible. At 18 years old, Smith won a BAFTA in 2016 for his work on a game called SPECTRUM, a solo project he had been working on since age 15. Ripstone Games saw the potential in Smith's game and offered him the backing necessary to fully flesh out the title that earned him such a prestigious award. Now, two years later, SPECTRUM has been renamed The Spectrum Retreat, fleshed out with puzzles, and given a more concrete narrative. With an impending release in a matter of weeks, I sat down with Smith to talk about and play his first commercial video game. The Spectrum Retreat has something of an odd story premise. Without giving too much away, players wake up in the spacious and immaculately ordered Penrose Hotel. Slowly explore the surrounding area reveals that it's a vast complex, empty save for a number of very polite robots that handle the day-to-day maintenance of the facility. However, no matter what you do, the robotic refuse to let you leave the hotel. As this reality begins to sink in, someone contacts you over the phone, a woman who seems to know that something is going on, something bad. She begins giving instructions on how to escape. Unfortunately, the easy way out becomes impassable and she guides you to a restricted area blocked off by color coded force fields. It's here that the puzzle-solving truly begins. The core conceit of The Spectrum Retreat, based on the mechanics from SPECTRUM, revolves around color. Players are able to absorb a color and use it to walk through barriers of that color and then swap it out for a different color. It's a simple mechanic, Smith even said it was one of the first puzzle concepts he learned when he dove into programming, but it's one that has fascinated him enough to build an entire game around the complex puzzles that can be constructed with it in mind. I saw the color swapping create bridges over chasms, walls, and can easily imagine that the uses only become more complicated as crazier geometry and gating mechanisms combine in future puzzles. The opening levels slowly introduce new twists in how space and the color mechanics can be used to create more elaborate scenarios in a slow, accessible way. The goal, according to Smith, was to make a tutorial that didn't feel like a tutorial, with players discovering how to proceed on their own. This approach certainly worked for me; I enjoyed the dopamine tickle across my brain as I discovered new ways to overcome each challenge. A large part of what makes The Spectrum Retreat so interesting is how the color mechanic works with the non-euclidean space of its world, an unnerving aspect of the hotel that carries over into the puzzles. Sometimes dropping down a hole will bring you back to the beginning of a level, but it could also bring you to an almost identical version of the level with a story hint or clue to the puzzle. Certain hallways repeat endlessly, but how sure can you be that its not part of the puzzle when you turn back and find yourself in a new location? Combine this uncertainty with more concrete areas that feature maze-like layouts and the potential for some truly stimulating scenarios becomes apparent. After the demo areas were completed, my character had to return to the hotel to "keep up appearances." However, Smith told me that as the game progresses, the comforting art deco world of the Penrose Hotel will begin to merge with the strange, sterile puzzle rooms, creating an unnerving sense of dislocation. He said that the overall theme of the game would be one that grapples with the downsides of escapism, how we can run so far away from our problems that the methods used to run can actually create far more issues with which we eventually need to grapple. The Spectrum Retreat launches on July 10 for the PlayStation 4 and on July 13 for Xbox One and PC. A version for the Nintendo Switch will launch later this summer. 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!
  12. Quite a bit changed over the year since I last saw Insurgency: Sandstorm. Creative Director Andrew Spearin (who I interviewed at E3 last year) departed New World Interactive. Its highly-touted story mode has been cancelled. New World narrowed the focus to double-down on what brought Insurgency to the dance: its brutally realistic multiplayer. I had a chance to play a few rounds of multiplayer alongside seven other teammates. Our objective was to secure a checkpoint, but that was easier said than done. Insurgency’s focus on realism means taking one or two good shots ends the player’s life. The intelligent AI regularly flanked and swarmed us when we least expected it. Teamwork became a necessity; lone wolves rarely lasted long trying to reach the objective on their own. Although the game was rough around the edge, fans of the original Insurgency should be glad to know that Sandstorm, thus far, continues the series’ reputation as a grounded, skill-based shooter. After my session concluded I had the opportunity to speak with Insurgency’s lead designer, Michael Tsaroushas. We chatted about the various changes and roadblocks to hit the project in the last year, translating the PC experience to consoles, and the reason behind the story mode’s cancellation. Run through what's changed with Insurgency since I saw you guys last year. Michael: As you know we cancelled our story mode that was going to be for release. That is something we're going to reconsider after launch. We're focusing on a multiplayer experience, which includes cooperative multiplayer, 5v5 competitive matchmaking, adversarial traditional multiplayer, which is 16v16. Included in that are a lot of different improvements, a lot of new stuff since Insurgency, our previous game; new fire support mechanics, calling in helicopters, airstrikes, artillery, vaulting, door breaching, improved ballistic system. It's a hybrid between hit-scan and simulated ballistics depending on the distance of the bullet. Vehicles, character customization, a lot of different things we've been working on the last year. How was it designing that AI? I just finished playing a few rounds of the 8-player squad against a team of bots to try and capture an objective, and that AI is rough. I'm glad you feel that way. That's what we're going for [laughs]. In Insurgency, we had cooperative modes. We started out way back in the day with an adversarial game, but we explored all this cooperative play, and it ended up working really well. So, we dedicate a lot of resources in making sure our cooperative experience is just as fun as our adversarial- just as fun as our competitive experience. And you can see just in Checkpoint Mode, which is what we played today, [the AI] come at you, they’re very aggressive. They die just as fast as you, and I think when you have that, a high lethality game, the stakes are really high and you need to be really careful. And that's what make it fun. Are they especially reactive? I noticed I would kill one and then all of a sudden I would turn a corner and there's five of them just coming at me. Yeah, it's that kind of intensity that we want. That kind of fear, that kind of tension that we want. Like, “oh no, I have to be careful”. Have you guys added any new vehicles? I know last year you guys specifically mentioned jeeps and other vehicles. But you guys were also stressing that you weren't trying to be like Battlefield. Correct. We don't have tanks, we don't have any heavy vehicles. All of our vehicles are light. Trucks with machine guns on them. They're really interesting to play with because they're kind of like mobile turrets in a way. Not a lot of games do their vehicles that way but we found that that works pretty well for us. You have a shield for your turret. If you place it in the right position and watch, then you can screw them up, mess their day up real bad. We also have the fire support vehicles I was talking about. Those you don't drive, though. The trucks you drive. It's like when 2-player classes come together they can call in an airstrike, they can call in a helicopter. Has anything changed in the last year in terms of looking at other shooters and trends that have arisen–battle royale specifically? [laughs] It's hot right now. You know, we've talked about it in the past on our team. "Hey, I think we could do a cool battle royale". But it's not really what we want to do right now. It's not important to us at the moment. I don't think it's important to our community either. So maybe we'll explore post-release, but right now we don't have any plans for that. We'll see. As far as other trends go, I think we've been pretty solid with our vision for the past year. Since we cancelled the story mode for release we've been really focused on polishing and refining the multiplayer experience and expanding too. Can you talk about what brought about the cancellation of that story mode? When did that decision happen? It was still, at least this time last year, very much a thing. I watched a big trailer for it. What happened with that? Well frankly, we bit off more than we chew. We are a small studio. We're doing a lot of new stuff here [with a] new engine. We worked on Source, which came out in 2003. We're on Unreal Engine 4, which came out very recently, and we had to account for that. We had to account for the fact that we want to be on console. We had to account for the fact that we were really building a whole new platform, and we're a small team. There's like 36 of us, and we're spread all around the world. We have a couple different studios in Denver, Amsterdam, and we came to a realization that if we really want to deliver the experience people know us for, we should focus on it. And that led us to the decision. And you said it’s not a totally done thing? It could return in the future? After release we're going to reconsider it. At the moment we're just focused on the multiplayer. How's it been working on consoles for the first time? It's been interesting. It's been a challenge, of course. We don't have any experience on consoles. There's TRC's, there's certifications that you need to know, and that's been interesting to learn. That console release is also going to be split. That's going to come out in 2019. PC is going to be September, and that has helped us to make sure we focus on one thing at a time. Let me ask you in regards to the shooting. I think last year one of the devs described it as "The Dark Souls of shooters" I like that. It is a good way to describe it, at least in the brutality. The unforgivingness. Yeah, or the realism to a degree. It plays well with mouse and keyboard, but for a controller, have you guys had to pull back on that a little bit for a controller? How has that been translating that control setup? We definitely maintain the experience. Nothing changes [when] you play with a controller. Honestly, people play Insurgency right now with a controller. We have partial controller support for the Source version of Insurgency. I played it with a controller. It feels pretty good, right? It an experience that you can't have on a controller, and by doing that, seeing that in the original Insurgency, that led us to believe “hey, this could work for console.” So we don't really change much from that. We're obviously refining it, we obviously have to take into account key binding space and stuff, maybe do some aim dampening when you analog over something. Other than that, the experience is very similar. And we want that, we don't want to sacrifice our gunplay. It's kind of your identity as well. Exactly. Insurgency: Sandstorm is available now for pre-order on Steam. Doing so gains access to a future beta. To try it out even earlier, New World Interactive is currently taking sign-ups for an upcoming closed alpha. The game arrives in September for PC and comes to consoles in 2019. 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
  13. Quite a bit changed over the year since I last saw Insurgency: Sandstorm. Creative Director Andrew Spearin (who I interviewed at E3 last year) departed New World Interactive. Its highly-touted story mode has been cancelled. New World narrowed the focus to double-down on what brought Insurgency to the dance: its brutally realistic multiplayer. I had a chance to play a few rounds of multiplayer alongside seven other teammates. Our objective was to secure a checkpoint, but that was easier said than done. Insurgency’s focus on realism means taking one or two good shots ends the player’s life. The intelligent AI regularly flanked and swarmed us when we least expected it. Teamwork became a necessity; lone wolves rarely lasted long trying to reach the objective on their own. Although the game was rough around the edge, fans of the original Insurgency should be glad to know that Sandstorm, thus far, continues the series’ reputation as a grounded, skill-based shooter. After my session concluded I had the opportunity to speak with Insurgency’s lead designer, Michael Tsaroushas. We chatted about the various changes and roadblocks to hit the project in the last year, translating the PC experience to consoles, and the reason behind the story mode’s cancellation. Run through what's changed with Insurgency since I saw you guys last year. Michael: As you know we cancelled our story mode that was going to be for release. That is something we're going to reconsider after launch. We're focusing on a multiplayer experience, which includes cooperative multiplayer, 5v5 competitive matchmaking, adversarial traditional multiplayer, which is 16v16. Included in that are a lot of different improvements, a lot of new stuff since Insurgency, our previous game; new fire support mechanics, calling in helicopters, airstrikes, artillery, vaulting, door breaching, improved ballistic system. It's a hybrid between hit-scan and simulated ballistics depending on the distance of the bullet. Vehicles, character customization, a lot of different things we've been working on the last year. How was it designing that AI? I just finished playing a few rounds of the 8-player squad against a team of bots to try and capture an objective, and that AI is rough. I'm glad you feel that way. That's what we're going for [laughs]. In Insurgency, we had cooperative modes. We started out way back in the day with an adversarial game, but we explored all this cooperative play, and it ended up working really well. So, we dedicate a lot of resources in making sure our cooperative experience is just as fun as our adversarial- just as fun as our competitive experience. And you can see just in Checkpoint Mode, which is what we played today, [the AI] come at you, they’re very aggressive. They die just as fast as you, and I think when you have that, a high lethality game, the stakes are really high and you need to be really careful. And that's what make it fun. Are they especially reactive? I noticed I would kill one and then all of a sudden I would turn a corner and there's five of them just coming at me. Yeah, it's that kind of intensity that we want. That kind of fear, that kind of tension that we want. Like, “oh no, I have to be careful”. Have you guys added any new vehicles? I know last year you guys specifically mentioned jeeps and other vehicles. But you guys were also stressing that you weren't trying to be like Battlefield. Correct. We don't have tanks, we don't have any heavy vehicles. All of our vehicles are light. Trucks with machine guns on them. They're really interesting to play with because they're kind of like mobile turrets in a way. Not a lot of games do their vehicles that way but we found that that works pretty well for us. You have a shield for your turret. If you place it in the right position and watch, then you can screw them up, mess their day up real bad. We also have the fire support vehicles I was talking about. Those you don't drive, though. The trucks you drive. It's like when 2-player classes come together they can call in an airstrike, they can call in a helicopter. Has anything changed in the last year in terms of looking at other shooters and trends that have arisen–battle royale specifically? [laughs] It's hot right now. You know, we've talked about it in the past on our team. "Hey, I think we could do a cool battle royale". But it's not really what we want to do right now. It's not important to us at the moment. I don't think it's important to our community either. So maybe we'll explore post-release, but right now we don't have any plans for that. We'll see. As far as other trends go, I think we've been pretty solid with our vision for the past year. Since we cancelled the story mode for release we've been really focused on polishing and refining the multiplayer experience and expanding too. Can you talk about what brought about the cancellation of that story mode? When did that decision happen? It was still, at least this time last year, very much a thing. I watched a big trailer for it. What happened with that? Well frankly, we bit off more than we chew. We are a small studio. We're doing a lot of new stuff here [with a] new engine. We worked on Source, which came out in 2003. We're on Unreal Engine 4, which came out very recently, and we had to account for that. We had to account for the fact that we want to be on console. We had to account for the fact that we were really building a whole new platform, and we're a small team. There's like 36 of us, and we're spread all around the world. We have a couple different studios in Denver, Amsterdam, and we came to a realization that if we really want to deliver the experience people know us for, we should focus on it. And that led us to the decision. And you said it’s not a totally done thing? It could return in the future? After release we're going to reconsider it. At the moment we're just focused on the multiplayer. How's it been working on consoles for the first time? It's been interesting. It's been a challenge, of course. We don't have any experience on consoles. There's TRC's, there's certifications that you need to know, and that's been interesting to learn. That console release is also going to be split. That's going to come out in 2019. PC is going to be September, and that has helped us to make sure we focus on one thing at a time. Let me ask you in regards to the shooting. I think last year one of the devs described it as "The Dark Souls of shooters" I like that. It is a good way to describe it, at least in the brutality. The unforgivingness. Yeah, or the realism to a degree. It plays well with mouse and keyboard, but for a controller, have you guys had to pull back on that a little bit for a controller? How has that been translating that control setup? We definitely maintain the experience. Nothing changes [when] you play with a controller. Honestly, people play Insurgency right now with a controller. We have partial controller support for the Source version of Insurgency. I played it with a controller. It feels pretty good, right? It an experience that you can't have on a controller, and by doing that, seeing that in the original Insurgency, that led us to believe “hey, this could work for console.” So we don't really change much from that. We're obviously refining it, we obviously have to take into account key binding space and stuff, maybe do some aim dampening when you analog over something. Other than that, the experience is very similar. And we want that, we don't want to sacrifice our gunplay. It's kind of your identity as well. Exactly. Insurgency: Sandstorm is available now for pre-order on Steam. Doing so gains access to a future beta. To try it out even earlier, New World Interactive is currently taking sign-ups for an upcoming closed alpha. The game arrives in September for PC and comes to consoles in 2019. 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!
  14. If Dan Smith isn't a name you know in video games, you should fix that mistake as soon as possible. At 18 years old, Smith won a BAFTA in 2016 for his work on a game called SPECTRUM, a solo project he had been working on since age 15. Ripstone Games saw the potential in Smith's game and offered him the backing necessary to fully flesh out the title that earned him such a prestigious award. Now, two years later, SPECTRUM has been renamed The Spectrum Retreat, fleshed out with puzzles, and given a more concrete narrative. With an impending release in a matter of weeks, I sat down with Smith to talk about and play his first commercial video game. The Spectrum Retreat has something of an odd story premise. Without giving too much away, players wake up in the spacious and immaculately ordered Penrose Hotel. Slowly explore the surrounding area reveals that it's a vast complex, empty save for a number of very polite robots that handle the day-to-day maintenance of the facility. However, no matter what you do, the robotic refuse to let you leave the hotel. As this reality begins to sink in, someone contacts you over the phone, a woman who seems to know that something is going on, something bad. She begins giving instructions on how to escape. Unfortunately, the easy way out becomes impassable and she guides you to a restricted area blocked off by color coded force fields. It's here that the puzzle-solving truly begins. The core conceit of The Spectrum Retreat, based on the mechanics from SPECTRUM, revolves around color. Players are able to absorb a color and use it to walk through barriers of that color and then swap it out for a different color. It's a simple mechanic, Smith even said it was one of the first puzzle concepts he learned when he dove into programming, but it's one that has fascinated him enough to build an entire game around the complex puzzles that can be constructed with it in mind. I saw the color swapping create bridges over chasms, walls, and can easily imagine that the uses only become more complicated as crazier geometry and gating mechanisms combine in future puzzles. The opening levels slowly introduce new twists in how space and the color mechanics can be used to create more elaborate scenarios in a slow, accessible way. The goal, according to Smith, was to make a tutorial that didn't feel like a tutorial, with players discovering how to proceed on their own. This approach certainly worked for me; I enjoyed the dopamine tickle across my brain as I discovered new ways to overcome each challenge. A large part of what makes The Spectrum Retreat so interesting is how the color mechanic works with the non-euclidean space of its world, an unnerving aspect of the hotel that carries over into the puzzles. Sometimes dropping down a hole will bring you back to the beginning of a level, but it could also bring you to an almost identical version of the level with a story hint or clue to the puzzle. Certain hallways repeat endlessly, but how sure can you be that its not part of the puzzle when you turn back and find yourself in a new location? Combine this uncertainty with more concrete areas that feature maze-like layouts and the potential for some truly stimulating scenarios becomes apparent. After the demo areas were completed, my character had to return to the hotel to "keep up appearances." However, Smith told me that as the game progresses, the comforting art deco world of the Penrose Hotel will begin to merge with the strange, sterile puzzle rooms, creating an unnerving sense of dislocation. He said that the overall theme of the game would be one that grapples with the downsides of escapism, how we can run so far away from our problems that the methods used to run can actually create far more issues with which we eventually need to grapple. The Spectrum Retreat launches on July 10 for the PlayStation 4 and on July 13 for Xbox One and PC. A version for the Nintendo Switch will launch later this summer. 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
  15. 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. 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!
  16. 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. 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
  17. 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. 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
  18. 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. 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!
  19. Jack Gardner

    The Resurrection of Rune

    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!
  20. Jack Gardner

    Feature: The Resurrection of Rune

    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! View full article
  21. Jack Gardner

    E3 2018 - Day 3

    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!
  22. Jack Gardner

    Podcast:E3 2018 - Day 3

    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! View full article
  23. Jack Gardner

    E3 2018 - Day 2

    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!
  24. Jack Gardner

    Podcast:E3 2018 - Day 2

    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! View full article
  25. 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! 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
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